Séminaire SoSySec

Sécurité des logiciels et des systèmes

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David Cock (ETHZ)


The Impact of Incomprehensible Hardware on Security

It is a truism that computer hardware gets more complex over time, especially since the end of frequency and power scaling lead to a focus on application-specific hardware to take advantage of still-increasing transistor budgets. As hardware becomes more complex, it becomes more difficult to understand, and ever harder to construct tractable, yet accurate models for. In this talk, I outline the consequences of this growing incomprehensibility for security, drawing examples from the exploitation of microarchitectural (e.g. cache) side channels, and the construction of the hardware model for seL4, the first formally-verified OS kernel. I will also present some of our ongoing work in both designing "tasteful" hardware, and the construction and use of formal hardware models in systems software.