FPGA Cards Can Be Abused For Faster And More Reliable Rowhammer Attacks


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FPGA Cards Can Be Abused For Faster And More Reliable Rowhammer Attacks (Jan 2, 2020)

A research paper has been released by a team of US and German academics detailing how Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) cards can be exploited in “Rowhammer” attacks. Rowhammer attacks, first noted in 2014, exploit a design flaw in Random Access Memory (RAM) cards that alters data by reading data at high speeds repeatedly, a method referred to as “row hammering”. While RAM manufacturers have put migitations in place to avoid damage from attacks, the academics have identified ways around the mitigations, along with an expansion on using Rowhammer. These include but are not limited to taking over Linux computers, Windows computers, Android devices, remote attacks, and data exfiltration.

Recommendation: Security for hardware is vitally important. User configurable FPGAs on a cloud system need to be treated with as much care and caution as a user-controlled CPU thread.

Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) associated with this story can be viewed by ThreatStream users here to identify potential malicious activity.