Can Microkernels Mitigate Microarchitectural Attacks?

  • Gunnar Grimsdal
  • Patrik Lundgren
  • Christian Vestlund
  • Felipe Boeira
  • Mikael AsplundEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11875)


Microarchitectural attacks such as Meltdown and Spectre have attracted much attention recently. In this paper we study how effective these attacks are on the Genode microkernel framework using three different kernels, Okl4, Nova, and Linux. We try to answer the question whether the strict process separation provided by Genode combined with security-oriented kernels such as Okl4 and Nova can mitigate microarchitectural attacks. We evaluate the attack effectiveness by measuring the throughput of data transfer that violates the security properties of the system. Our results show that the underlying side-channel attack Flush+Reload used in both Meltdown and Spectre, is effective on all investigated platforms. We were also able to achieve high throughput using the Spectre attack, but we were not able to show any effective Meltdown attack on Okl4 or Nova.


Genode Meltdown Spectre Flush+Reload Okl4 Nova 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OmegapointStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Computer and Information ScienceLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Westermo Network TechnologiesStora SundbySweden
  4. 4.Sectra ABLinköpingSweden

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