Thomas Unterluggauer, Austin Harris, Scott Constable, Fangfei Liu, Carlos Rozas, "Chameleon Cache: Approximating Fully Associative Caches with Random Replacement to Prevent Contention-Based Cache Attacks" Thomas Unterluggauer, Austin Harris, Scott Constable, Fangfei Liu, Carlos Rozas in Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE International Symposium on Secure and Private Execution Environment Design(SEED).
Randomized, skewed caches (RSCs) such as CEASER-S have recently received much attention to defend against contention-based cache side channels. By randomizing and regularly changing the mapping(s) of addresses to cache sets, these techniques are designed to obfuscate the leakage of memory access patterns. However, new attack techniques, e.g., Prime+Prune+Probe, soon demonstrated the limits of RSCs as they allow attackers to more quickly learn which addresses contend in the cache and use this information to circumvent the randomization. To yet maintain side-channel resilience, RSCs must change the random mapping(s) more frequently with adverse effects on performance and implementation complexity. This work aims to make randomization-based approaches more robust to allow for reduced re-keying rates and presents Chameleon Cache. Chameleon Cache extends RSCs with a victim cache (VC) to decouple contention in the RSC from evictions observed by the user. The VC allows Chameleon Cache to make additional use of the multiple mappings RSCs provide to translate addresses to cache set indices: when a cache line is evicted from the RSC to the VC under one of its mappings, the VC automatically reinserts this evicted line back into the RSC by using a different mapping. As a result, the effects of previous RSC set contention are hidden and Chameleon Cache exhibits side-channel resistance and eviction patterns similar to fully associative caches with random replacement. We show that Chameleon Cache has performance overheads of < 1% and stress that VCs are more generically helpful to increase side- channel resistance and re-keying intervals of randomized caches.