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ObfusMem

Amro Awad, Yipeng Wang, Deborah Shands, Yan Solihin

Abstract: Trustworthy software requires strong privacy and security guarantees from a secure trust base in hardware. While chipmakers provide hardware support for basic security and privacy primitives such as enclaves and memory encryption. these primitives do not address hiding of the memory access pattern, information about which may enable attacks on the system or reveal characteristics of sensitive user data. State-of-the-art approaches to protecting the access pattern are largely based on Oblivious RAM (ORAM). Unfortunately, current ORAM implementations suffer from very significant practicality and overhead concerns, including roughly an order of magnitude slowdown, more than 100% memory capacity overheads, and the potential for system deadlock. Memory technology trends are moving towards 3D and 2.5D integration, enabling significant logic capabilities and sophisticated memory interfaces. Leveraging the trends, we propose a new approach to access pattern obfuscation, called ObfusMem. ObfusMem adds the memory to the trusted computing base and incorporates cryptographic engines within the memory. ObfusMem encrypts commands and addresses on the memory bus, hence the access pattern is cryptographically obfuscated from external observers. Our evaluation shows that ObfusMem incurs an overhead of 10.9% on average, which is about an order of magnitude faster than ORAM implementations. Furthermore, ObfusMem does not incur capacity overheads and does not amplify writes. We analyze and compare the security protections provided by ObfusMem and ORAM, and highlight their differences.
Keywords: Access Pattern Ofuscation / Emerging Memory Technologies / Hardware Security / ORAM

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