Ph.D. students Esmaeil Mohammadian Koruyeh (pictured) and Khaled Khasawneh, working with Prof.'s Chengyu Song and Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, discovered a new variant of the specter class vulnerability which targets speculative execution in modern CPUs. The new attack relies on poisoning the Return Stack Buffer, a structure used in modern processors to predict the address of a return instruction. The vulnerability was disclosed to Intel, AMD, and ARM, and was reported on by several technical news outlets such as ZDNet and Threatpost. The paper presenting the attack won the best paper award at the Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT) held with the Usenix security conference!
The vulnerability has resulted in a patch to the mainline Linux kernel based on the recommended mitigation in the paper.
UCR researchers have made a number of earlier contributions to Spectre-class attacks and defenses.