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Chris Fletcher (Illinois): Principled Defenses Against Speculative Execution Attacks

Virtual Computer Architecture Seminar

Event Details

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
4-5 p.m.

Arguably the foremost problem in Secure Computer Architecture is that processor microarchitecture leaks more privacy than is captured by explicit abstractions such as the ISA.  This discrepancy matters, enabling devastating attacks capable of leaking critical, to potentially all, program data.

This talk will advocate for principled defenses that provide a basis for higher levels in the stack to reason about what leakage is possible at the hardware level.  The talk will be broken into three parts.  First, I will describe Speculative Taint Tracking (STT): a hardware mechanism that transparently (to software) and efficiently enforces non-interference between speculatively accessed data and microarchitectural resource usage (blocking attacks such as Spectre).  Second, I will describe a framework through which to performance-optimize STT while preserving its original security property.  I will conclude with a discussion of what I see on the horizon for Processor Security.

Chris Fletcher is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He has broad interests ranging from Computer Architecture to Security to High-Performance Computing (ranging from theory to practice).  These and related works have been awarded with election to the DARPA ISAT study group, the Intel CRC Outstanding Researcher Award, the NSF CAREER award, a Google Faculty Award, the George M. Sprowls Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis in Computer Science at MIT, multiple best paper awards and best paper honorable mentions, and were listed as one of ten "World Changing Ideas" designations by Scientific American.