In the era of microarchitectural side channels, vendors scramble to deploy mitigations for transient execution attacks, but leave traditional side-channel attacks against sensitive software (e.g., crypto programs) to be fixed by developers by means of constant-time programming (i.e., absence of secret-dependent code/data patterns). Unfortunately, writing constant-time code by hand is hard, as evidenced by the many flaws discovered in production side channel-resistant code. Prior efforts to automatically transform programs into constant-time equivalents offer limited security or compatibility guarantees, hindering their applicability to real-world software. In this paper, we present Constantine, a compiler-based system to automatically harden programs against microarchitectural side channels. Constantine pursues a radical design point where secret-dependent control and data flows are completely linearized (i.e., all involved code/data accesses are always executed). This strategy provides strong security and compatibility guarantees by construction, but its natural implementation leads to state explosion in real-world programs. To address this challenge, Constantine relies on carefully designed optimizations such as just-in-time loop linearization and aggressive function cloning for fully context-sensitive points-to analysis, which not only address state explosion, but also lead to an efficient and compatible solution. Constantine yields overheads as low as 16% on standard benchmarks and can handle a fully-fledged component from the production wolfSSL library.
- Pub Date:
- April 2021
- Computer Science - Cryptography and Security;
- Computer Science - Programming Languages;
- Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) 2021. Code and BibTeX entry available at https://github.com/pietroborrello/constantine