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Gulmezoglu, Berk, Eisenbarth, Thomas, Sunar, Berk.  2017.  Cache-Based Application Detection in the Cloud Using Machine Learning. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :288–300.

Cross-VM attacks have emerged as a major threat on commercial clouds. These attacks commonly exploit hardware level leakages on shared physical servers. A co-located machine can readily feel the presence of a co-located instance with a heavy computational load through performance degradation due to contention on shared resources. Shared cache architectures such as the last level cache (LLC) have become a popular leakage source to mount cross-VM attack. By exploiting LLC leakages, researchers have already shown that it is possible to recover fine grain information such as cryptographic keys from popular software libraries. This makes it essential to verify implementations that handle sensitive data across the many versions and numerous target platforms, a task too complicated, error prone and costly to be handled by human beings. Here we propose a machine learning based technique to classify applications according to their cache access profiles. We show that with minimal and simple manual processing steps feature vectors can be used to train models using support vector machines to classify the applications with a high degree of success. The profiling and training steps are completely automated and do not require any inspection or study of the code to be classified. In native execution, we achieve a successful classification rate as high as 98% (L1 cache) and 78$\backslash$% (LLC) over 40 benchmark applications in the Phoronix suite with mild training. In the cross-VM setting on the noisy Amazon EC2 the success rate drops to 60$\backslash$% for a suite of 25 applications. With this initial study we demonstrate that it is possible to train meaningful models to successfully predict applications running in co-located instances.

Irazoqui, Gorka, Eisenbarth, Thomas, Sunar, Berk.  2018.  MASCAT: Preventing Microarchitectural Attacks Before Distribution. Proceedings of the Eighth ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy. :377–388.
Microarchitectural attacks have gained popularity lately for the threat they pose and for their stealthiness. They are stealthy as they only exploit common harmless resources accessible at lowest privilege level, e.g. timed memory and cache accesses. Microarchitectural attacks have proven successful on shared cloud instances across VMs, on smartphones with sandboxing, and on numerous embedded platforms. Further they have shown to have catastrophic consequences such as critical data recovery or memory isolation bypassing. Due to the rise of malicious code, app store operators such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are already vetting apps before releasing them. Microarchitectural attacks however still bypass such detection mechanisms as they mainly utilize standard resources and look harmless. Given the rise of malicious code in app stores and in online repositories it becomes essential to scan applications for such stealthy attacks to prevent their distribution. We present a static code analysis tool, MASCAT, capable of scanning for ever-evolving microarchitectural attacks. MASCAT can be used by app store service providers to perform large scale fully automated analysis of applications. The initial MASCAT suite is built to include cache/DRAM access attacks and rowhammer. MASCAT detects several patterns that are common and necessary to execute microarchitectural attacks. MASCAT currently has a detection rate of 96% and an average false positive rate tested in 1200 applications of 0.75%. Further, our tool can easily be extended to cover newer attack vectors as they emerge