Detection of and Countermeasure against Thermal Covert Channel in Many-core Systems

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IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems

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IEEE The thermal covert channels (TCC's) in many-core systems can cause detrimental data breaches. In this paper, we present a three-step scheme to detect and fight against such TCC attacks. Specifically, in the detection step, each core calculates the spectrum of its own CPU workload traces that are collected over a few fixed time intervals, and then it applies a frequency scanning method to detect if there exists any TCC attack. In the next positioning step, the logical cores running the transmitter threads are located. In the last step, the physical CPU cores suspiciously engaging in a TCC attack have to undertake Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling (DVFS) such that any possible TCC trace will be essentially wiped out. Our experiments have confirmed that on average 97% of the TCC attacks can be detected, and with the proposed defense, the packet error rate (PER) of a TCC attack can soar to more than 70%, literally shutting down the attack in practical terms. The performance penalty caused by the inclusion of the proposed DVFS countermeasures is found to be only 3% for an 8×8 many-core system.


Central processing unit; Defense against covert channel attack.; Detection of covert channel; Jamming; Many-core systems; Receivers; Thermal covert channel; Thermal noise; Thermal sensors; Throughput; Transmitters


Electrical and Computer Engineering



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