Rt-sniper: A low-overhead defense mechanism pinpointing cache side-channel attacks

Minkyu Song, Junyeon Lee, Taeweon Suh, Gunjae Koo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Since cache side-channel attacks have been serious security threats to multi-tenant systems, there have been several studies to protect systems against the attacks. However, the prior studies have limitations in determining only the existence of the attack and/or occupying too many computing resources in runtime. We propose a low-overhead pinpointing solution, called RT-Sniper, to overcome such limitations. RT-Sniper employs a two-level filtering mechanism to minimize performance overhead. It first monitors hardware events per core and isolates a suspected core to run a malicious process. Then among the processes running on the selected core, RT-Sniper pinpoints a malicious process through a per-process monitoring approach. With the core-level filtering, RT-Sniper has an advantage in overhead compared to the previous works. We evaluate RT-Sniper against Flush+Reload and Prime+Probe attacks running SPEC2017, LMBench, and PARSEC benchmarks on multi-core systems. Our evaluation demonstrates that the performance overhead by RT-Sniper is negligible (0.3% for single-threaded applications and 2.05% for multi-threaded applications). Compared to the previous defense solutions against cache side-channel attacks, RT-Sniper exhibits better detection performance with lower performance overhead.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2748
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cache side-channel attacks
  • Malware detection
  • Overhead
  • Security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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