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Primeur weekly 2019-06-03

Quantum computing

Quantum information gets a boost from thin-film breakthrough ...

Focus on Europe

Wrap up of an inspiring EuroHPC Summit Week 2019 including PRACEdays19 ...

Hardware

Excelero and ThinkParQ go to market with integrated NVMesh and BeeGFS ...

Tachyum successfully deploys Linux OS on universal processor chip ...

Supermicro displays Resource-Saving server technology and new 5G Edge solutions at Computex 2019 ...

NVIDIA launches Edge computing platform to bring real-time AI to global industries ...

TYAN showcases HPC, storage and Cloud server platforms featuring 2nd Gen Intel Xeon scalable processors at Computex 2019 ...

Applications

DesignSafe and ADCIRC provide storm surge simulators for natural hazards community ...

University of Wyoming faculty have until June 21 to apply for supercomputer use ...

The Spanish supercomputer that helps design aerodynamics for thousands of UK cars ...

DJI Manifold 2 onboard supercomputer transforms drones into autonomous robots ...

Study finds Red Sea may be cooling rather than warming ...

Garching physicists develop a new method to carry computations in quantum field theory ...

NCSA's Blue Waters Petascale Computing Hackathon now accepting applications ...

Combination of experiments and calculations allows examination of boron's complicated dance ...

New Argonne computational model to accelerate engine development for next-generation hypersonic flight ...

The Cloud

Vulnerability of cloud service hardware uncovered ...

Univa's Navops Launch solution simplifies Cloud usage to help customers migrate their HPC workloads to the Cloud ...

Vulnerability of cloud service hardware uncovered


Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are more flexible than common specialized computer chips - and they used to be seen as particularly secure. Credit: Gnad, KIT.
31 May 2019 Karlsruhe - Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are, so to say, a computer manufacturer's 'Lego bricks': electronic components that can be employed in a very flexible way. Large data centers that are dedicated to Cloud services, often resort to FPGAs. To date, the use of such services has been considered as relatively secure. Recently, however, scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology uncovered potential gateways for cyber criminals, as they explain in a report published in theIACRjournal.

While conventional computer chips mostly perform a very specific task that never changes, FPGAs are capable of assuming nearly every function of any other computer chip. This often makes them first choice for the development of new devices or systems. "FPGAs are for example built into the first product batch of a new device because, unlike special chips whose development only pays off when produced in high volumes, FPGAs can still be modified later", stated Dennis Gnad, a member of the Institute of Computer Engineering (ITEC) at KIT. The computer scientist compares this to a sculpture made from reusable Lego bricks instead of a modeling compound that can no longer be modified once it has hardened.

Therefore, the fields of application of these digital multi-talents span the most diverse sectors, such as smartphones, networks, the Internet, medical engineering, vehicle electronics, or aerospace. Having said that, FPGAs stand out by their comparatively low current consumption, which makes them ideally suited for the server farms run by cloud service providers. A further asset of these programmable chips is that they can be partitioned at will. "The upper half of the FPGA can be allocated to one customer, the lower half to a second one", stated Jonas Krautter, another ITEC member. Such a use scenario is highly desirable for Cloud services, where tasks related e.g. to databases, AI applications, such as machine learning, or financial applications have to be performed.

Dennis Gnad described the problem as follows: "The concurrent use of an FPGA chip by multiple users opens a gateway for malicious attacks." Ironically, just the versatility of FPGAs enables clever hackers to carry out so-called side-channel attacks. In a side-channel attack, cyber criminals use the energy consumption of the chip to retrieve information allowing them to break its encryption. Dennis Gnad warns that such chip-internal measurements enable a malicious Cloud service customer to spy on another. What is more, hackers are not only able to track down such telltale current consumption fluctuations - they can even fake them. "This way, it is possible to tamper with the calculations of other customers or even to crash the chip altogether, possibly resulting in data losses", Jonas Krautter explained. Dennis Gnad added that similar hazards exist for other computer chips as well. This includes those used frequently for IoT applications, such as smart heating control or lighting systems.

To solve the problem, Dennis Gnad and Jonas Krautter adopted an approach that consists in restricting the immediate access of users to the FPGAs. "The challenge is to reliably filter out malicious users without tying up the legitimate ones too much", stated Dennis Gnad.

Gnad D., Krautter, J., and Tahoori M. are the authors of the paper titled " Leaky Noise: New Side-Channel Attack Vectors in Mixed-Signal IoT Devices " published inIACR Transactions on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems, 2019(3), 305-339.

Source: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie - KIT

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2019-06-03

Quantum computing

Quantum information gets a boost from thin-film breakthrough ...

Focus on Europe

Wrap up of an inspiring EuroHPC Summit Week 2019 including PRACEdays19 ...

Hardware

Excelero and ThinkParQ go to market with integrated NVMesh and BeeGFS ...

Tachyum successfully deploys Linux OS on universal processor chip ...

Supermicro displays Resource-Saving server technology and new 5G Edge solutions at Computex 2019 ...

NVIDIA launches Edge computing platform to bring real-time AI to global industries ...

TYAN showcases HPC, storage and Cloud server platforms featuring 2nd Gen Intel Xeon scalable processors at Computex 2019 ...

Applications

DesignSafe and ADCIRC provide storm surge simulators for natural hazards community ...

University of Wyoming faculty have until June 21 to apply for supercomputer use ...

The Spanish supercomputer that helps design aerodynamics for thousands of UK cars ...

DJI Manifold 2 onboard supercomputer transforms drones into autonomous robots ...

Study finds Red Sea may be cooling rather than warming ...

Garching physicists develop a new method to carry computations in quantum field theory ...

NCSA's Blue Waters Petascale Computing Hackathon now accepting applications ...

Combination of experiments and calculations allows examination of boron's complicated dance ...

New Argonne computational model to accelerate engine development for next-generation hypersonic flight ...

The Cloud

Vulnerability of cloud service hardware uncovered ...

Univa's Navops Launch solution simplifies Cloud usage to help customers migrate their HPC workloads to the Cloud ...