TUGrazX: Introduction to Software Side Channels and Mitigations
Side channels exist in the real world, but they also exist in computers and can be exploited directly from software. This is a substantial computer security problem today, that we need to learn about to be able to stop attacks. In this course, you will learn and practice basic software-based side channels and understand the thought process to utilize a side channel. You will then learn how to mitigate or avoid side channels in software.
There is one session available:
Introduction to Software Side Channels and Mitigations
About this courseSkip About this course
Same as the prerequisite course, we do not just enumerate side-channel effects and how to exploit them. We provide you with the experience of learning about side channels, in a group of students, living in a shared appartment. Together with them you will figure out that what software side channels are, why they are relevant for cybersecurity, in particular in our modern digital lifes, where all our secrets are stored on computers that can be subverted using side channels.
In this course, we get one step closer to hugely impactful attacks like Meltdown and Spectre, which internally use side channels. We will learn about different simple software-based side channels and how they can be exploited. We will cover the basics, requiring some programming skills. We again focus on the security or side-channel mindset, as a crucial take-away for you, that you will be able to apply on a day-to-day basis in your studies, your job, and your personal life. You will extend your view on side channels and be able to assess risks in technical contexts in detail. In a set of small exercises, you will demonstrate that you understood the basics, and are able to find and exploit side channels in small software programs.
Course created with support from
At a glance
- Institution: TUGrazX
- Subject: Computer Science
- Level: Introductory
Knowledge and skills from the prerequisite course Side Channel Security S1: Side Channel and Computer Security Mindset.
We expect basic programming skills that you may have obtained as part of a university program such as computer science or a high school degree with a focus on computer science.
- Language: English
- Video Transcript: English
- Associated programs:
- Professional Certificate in Side Channel Security Basics
- Associated skills: Cyber Security, Spectre Circuit Simulator, Computer Security
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- Spot and exploit side-channel leakage in simple software programs
- Use different software-based side channels to extract secret information
- Connect these security risks with methods to mitigate and close side channels
- Episode 1: Raiders of the Lost Account
Manuel loses access to his online account. In a search to recover it, the flat mates discover how to get from small variations in the execution to a side-channel attack on the PIN entry.
- Episode 2: Memory
Claudio runs a course grading server. Our flat mates set out to find a flaw in it and discover a new means of attacking software, by flushing and reloading memory (the so-called Flush+Reload attack).
- Episode 3: Not on my Watch
Lukas and Andreas miss a deadline and use Flush+Reload to still get a signature on their assignments even though the deadline has passed.
- Episode 4: Justice Leak
Claudio's course grading server corrupts an assignment, leading to an unfair zero points for some flat mates. They try to get justice and their points back, by using Flush+Reload again.
- Episode 5: Flush+Reload: Endgame
With all these attacks, and specific mitigations against them, the flatmates discuss possible generic mitigations against Flush+Reload.