DRAMD: Detect Advanced DRAM-based Stealthy Communication Channels with Neural Networks

INFOCOM 2020, download

Zhiyuan Lv , Youjian Zhao , Chao Zhang , Haibin Li .


Shared resources facilitate stealthy communication channels, including side channels and covert channels, which greatly endanger the information security, even in cloud environments. As a commonly shared resource, DRAM memory also serves as a source of stealthy channels. Existing solutions rely on two common features of DRAM-based channels, i.e., high cache miss and high bank locality, to detect the existence of such channels. However, such solutions could be defeated.

In this paper, we point out the weakness of existing detection solutions by demonstrating a new advanced DRAM-based channel, which utilizes the hardware Intel SGX to conceal cache miss and bank locality. Further, we propose a novel neural network based solution DRAMD to detect such advanced stealthy channels. DRAMD uses hardware performance counters to track not only cache miss events that are used by existing solutions, but also counts of branches and instructions executed, as well as branch misses. Then DRAMD utilizes neural networks to model the access patterns of different applications and therefore detects potential stealthy communication channels. Our evaluation shows that DRAMD achieves up to 99% precision with 100% recall. Furthermore, DRAMD introduces less than 5% performance overheads and negligible impacts on legacy applications.