ZebRAM: Comprehensive and Compatible Software Protection Against Rowhammer Attacks


Radhesh Krishnan Konoth, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Marco Oliverio, University of Calabria/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Andrei Tatar, Dennis Andriesse, Herbert Bos, Cristiano Giuffrida, and Kaveh Razavi, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


The Rowhammer vulnerability common to many modern DRAM chips allows attackers to trigger bit flips in a row of memory cells by accessing the adjacent rows at high frequencies. As a result, they are able to corrupt sensitive data structures (such as page tables, cryptographic keys, object pointers, or even instructions in a program), and circumvent all existing defenses. This paper introduces ZebRAM, a novel and comprehensive software-level protection against Rowhammer. ZebRAM isolates every DRAM row that contains data with guard rows that absorb any Rowhammer-induced bit flips; the only known method to protect against all forms of Rowhammer. Rather than leaving guard rows unused, ZebRAM improves performance by using the guard rows as efficient, integrity-checked and optionally compressed swap space. ZebRAM requires no hardware modifications and builds on virtualization extensions in commodity processors to transparently control data placement in DRAM. Our evaluation shows that ZebRAM provides strong security guarantees while utilizing all available memory.

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@inproceedings {222597,
author = {Radhesh Krishnan Konoth and Marco Oliverio and Andrei Tatar and Dennis Andriesse and Herbert Bos and Cristiano Giuffrida and Kaveh Razavi},
title = {ZebRAM: Comprehensive and Compatible Software Protection Against Rowhammer Attacks},
booktitle = {13th {USENIX} Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation ({OSDI} 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-47-8},
address = {Carlsbad, CA},
pages = {697--710},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/osdi18/presentation/konoth},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},