SecSMT: Securing SMT Processors against Contention-Based Covert Channels


Mohammadkazem Taram, University of California San Diego; Xida Ren and Ashish Venkat, University of Virginia; Dean Tullsen, University of California San Diego


This paper presents the first comprehensive analysis of contention-based security vulnerabilities in a high-performance simultaneous mulithreaded (SMT) processor. It features a characterization of contention throughout the shared pipeline, and potential resulting leakage channels for each resource. Further, it presents a set of unified mitigation/isolation strategies that dramatically cut that leakage while preserving most of the performance of a full, insecure SMT implementation. These results lay the groundwork for considering SMT execution, with its performance benefits, a reasonable choice even for security-sensitive applications.

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@inproceedings {277082,
author = {Mohammadkazem Taram and Xida Ren and Ashish Venkat and Dean Tullsen},
title = {{SecSMT}: Securing {SMT} Processors against {Contention-Based} Covert Channels},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-31-1},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {3165--3182},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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