Architectural Support for Securing Systems Against Software Vulnerabilities

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

NYU Shanghai Computer Science Candidate:

Khaled Khasawneh

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Computer Science & Engineering

University of California, Riverside


Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 ; 11:00 A.M.

NYU Tandon School of Engineering

2 MetroTech Center, 10.099

Refreshments will be served.

Architectural Support for Securing Systems Against Software Vulnerabilities



Computer systems are vulnerable to attacks from increasingly motivated and sophisticated attackers.  The recent Meltdown and Spectre attacks have shown that computer architecture and hardware can offer software-exploitable interfaces that can be used to compromise systems. My work investigates the boundary between hardware and software with respect to computer security, exploring attacks that originate in the hardware, but also architecture support for securing systems and software.  In this presentation, I will first show an example of how architecture can help computer security through the use of robust evasion-resilient hardware malware detectors.  I will also describe a new Spectre attack that I developed targeting the return stack buffer used to optimize the execution of return instructions on modern CPUs.  Finally, I will briefly describe SafeSpec, a new CPU design principle that secures modern processors against Spectre and Meltdown attacks, while retaining the benefits of speculative execution.



Khaled Khasawneh is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He received his BSc degree in Computer Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2012 and his MS degree in Computer Science from SUNY Binghamton in 2014. His research interests are in architecture support for security, with emphasis on malware detection, adversarial machine learning, and side channels attacks. In the summer of 2018, he was an Intern at Facebook in the Community Integrity team. His 2018 paper in USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies received the best paper award. He is the recipient of the Dissertation Year Program award.  Several of his contributions have been reported on by numerous technical news outlets, including ZDNet, Digital Trends, Tech Republic, The Register, Threat Post, Beta News, Bleeping Computer, etc.