May 14th, 2003, 10:18 AM
Virtual Machines (java ...) attack!
Hereby a very interesting paper presented to the "IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2003", about using memory errors to attack virtual machine.
The paper is very technical but very educational, I felt that could be a subject of interest to AOs.
Some would probably think that I'm propagating hacking techniques: No, I'm not this subject is in the state of the art of software & hardware research & is published by IEEE.
The technique relies on the ability of energy to "flip bits" in memory. While cosmic rays can very occasionally cause a random bit in memory to change value, from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 0, Govindavajhala decided not to wait. He used a lamp to heat up the chips inside a computer and cause one or more bits of memory to change.
By doing so, the researcher broke the security model that virtual machine's rely on--that the computer faithfully executes its instruction set.
The technique could be useful in stealing data from smart cards, which look like credit cards but have memory and a simple processor implanted in the card. Since getting a hold of someone's smart card is much easier than cracking the case on their PC, the attack would be feasible.
Smartcard developers are very interested with that experiment and hope to find solution to tackle the pointed problem
[shadow] SHARING KNOWLEDGE[/shadow]