Side-Channel Attacks in RISC-V BOOM Front-end

dc.contributor.authorChavda, Rutvik Jayantbhaien
dc.contributor.committeechairXiong, Wenjieen
dc.contributor.committeememberMin, Chang Wooen
dc.contributor.committeememberWang, Hainingen
dc.contributor.departmentElectrical and Computer Engineeringen
dc.description.abstractThe prevalence of side-channel attacks exploiting hardware vulnerabilities leads to the exfil- tration of secretive data such as secret keys, which poses a significant threat to the security of modern processors. The RISC-V BOOM core is an open-source modern processor design widely utilized in research and industry. It enables experimentation with microarchitec- tures and memory hierarchies for optimized performance in various workloads. The RISC-V BOOM core finds application in the IoT and Embedded systems sector, where addressing side-channel attacks becomes crucial due to the significant emphasis on security. While prior studies on BOOM mainly focus on the side channel in the memory hierarchy such as caches or physical attacks such as power side channel. Recently, the front-end of microprocessors, which is responsible for fetching and decoding instructions, is found to be another potential source of side-channel attacks on Intel Processors. In this study, I present four timing-based side-channel attacks that leverage components in the front-end of BOOM. I tested the effectiveness of the attacks using a simulator and Xilinx VCU118 FPGA board. Finally, I provided possible mitigation techniques for these types of attacks to improve the overall security of modern processors. Our findings underscore the importance of identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in the front-end of modern pro- cessors, such as the BOOM core, to mitigate the risk of side-channel attacks and enhance system security.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralIn today's digital landscape, the security of modern processors is threatened by the increasing prevalence of side-channel attacks that exploit hardware vulnerabilities. These attacks are a type of security threat that allows attackers to extract sensitive information from computer systems by analyzing the physical behavior. The risk of such attacks is further amplified when multiple users or applications share the same hardware resources. Attackers can ex- ploit the interactions and dependencies among shared resources to gather information and compromise the integrity and confidentiality of critical data. The RISC-V BOOM core, a widely utilized modern processor design, is not immune to these side-channel attacks. This issue demands urgent attention, especially considering its deploy- ment in data-sensitive domains such as IoT and embedded systems. Previous studies have focused on side-channel vulnerabilities in other areas of BOOM, ne- glecting the front-end. However, the front-end, responsible for processing initial information, has recently emerged as another potential target for side-channel attacks. To address this, I conducted a study on the vulnerability of the RISC-V BOOM core's front-end. By conduct- ing tests using both a software-based simulator and a physical board, I uncovered potential security threats and discussed potential techniques to mitigate these risks, thereby enhanc- ing the overall security of modern processors. These findings underscore the significance of addressing vulnerabilities in the front-end of processors to prevent side-channel attacks and safeguard against potential malicious activities.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Scienceen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectBranch Predictoren
dc.titleSide-Channel Attacks in RISC-V BOOM Front-enden
dc.typeThesisen Engineeringen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Scienceen


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