MIT provides alternative solution for Spectre-like CPU bugs
CPU-related security flaws like Spectre and Meltdown are still looming around in the latest chips from Intel and AMD, despite considerable efforts to mitigate their threat via OS patches and in-silicon solutions. Most of the software-based “remedies” are known to decrease overall system performance to various degrees and do not even deal with all the discovered vulnerability variants. Researchers at MIT are now trying to help alleviate the situation with a more intuitive system called DAWG (Dynamically Allocated Way Guard).
DAWG is essentially isolating CPU memory caches so that instruction come on a need-to-know basis. All the separate caches ways can still access their own domain identities, but there are specific policies that detect cache “misses” that could result in a malicious attack. MIT researchers claim that DAWG can detect more attacks than Intel’s pre-Spectre Cache Allocation Technology (CAT) with minimal performance hits.
The MIT researchers are also claiming that DAWG is being constantly updated with more ways to detect speculative memory attacks, and it looks like the software can easily be integrated in existing operating systems. It all comes down to how open to adoption chip makers and OS-makers are.