Meltdown [telecom]

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The security of computer systems fundamentally relies on memory
isolation, e.g., kernel address ranges are marked as non-accessible
and are protected from user access. In this paper, we present
Meltdown. Meltdown exploits side effects of out-of-order execution on
modern processors to read arbitrary kernel-memory locations including
personal data and passwords. Out-of-order execution is an
indispensable performance feature and present in a wide range of
modern processors. The attack is independent of the operating system,
and it does not rely on any software vulnerabilities. Meltdown breaks
all security assumptions given by address space isolation as well as
paravirtualized environments and, thus, every security mechanism
building upon this foundation. On affected systems, Meltdown enables
an adversary to read memory of other processes or virtual machines in
the cloud without any permissions or privileges, affecting millions of
customers and virtually every user of a personal computer. We show
that the KAISER defense mechanism for KASLR [8] has the important (but
inadvertent) side effect of impeding Meltdown. We stress that KAISER
must be deployed immediately to prevent large-scale exploitation of
this severe information leakage.

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