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TLBleed attack can extract signing keys, but exploit is difficult

June 27, 2018 / Michael Heller

A new side-channel attack on Intel chips, named TLBleed, can extract signing keys. But the researcher who discovered it said users shouldn't worry, because it's not the next Spectre. An interesting, new side-channel attack abuses the Hyper-Threading feature of Intel chips and can extract signing keys with near-perfect accuracy. But both the researchers and Intel downplayed the danger of the exploit. Ben Gras, Kaveh Razavi, Herbert Bos and Cristiano Giuffrida, researchers at Vrije Universiteit's systems and network security group in Amsterdam, said their attack, called TLBleed, takes advantage of the translation lookaside buffer cache of Intel chips. If exploited, TLBleed can allow an attacker to extract the secret 256-bit key used to sign programs, with a success rate of 99.8% on Intel Skylake and Coffee Lake processors and 98.2% accuracy on Broadwell Xeon chips. However, Gras tweeted that users shouldn't be too scared of TLBleed, because while it is "a cool attack...