Moving Sensitive Data Against Live Memory Dumping, Spectre and Meltdown Attacks
Sianipar, Johannes; Sukmana, Muhammad; Meinel, Christoph
The emergence of cloud computing allows users to easily host their Virtual Machines with no up-front investment and the guarantee of always available anytime anywhere. But with the Virtual Machine (VM) is hosted outside of user’s premise, the user loses the physical control of the VM as it could be running on untrusted host machines in the cloud. Malicious host administrator could launch live memory dumping, Spectre, or Meltdown attacks in order to extract sensitive information from the VM’s memory, e.g. passwords or cryptographic keys of applications running in the VM. In this paper, inspired by the moving target defense (MTD) scheme, we propose a novel approach to increase the security of application’s sensitive data in the VM by continuously moving the sensitive data among several memory allocations (blocks) in Random Access Memory (RAM). A movement function is added into the application source code in order for the function to be running concurrently with the application’s main function. Our approach could reduce the possibility of VM’s sensitive data in the memory to be leaked into memory dump file by 25% and secure the sensitive data from Spectre and Meltdown attacks. Our approach’s overhead depends on the number and the size of the sensitive data.