Our researchers present their papers at USENIX 2022


A total of 10 papers in which ATHENE researchers have participated have been accepted at this year's USENIX Security Symposium. Starting today, our researchers will present their papers at this year's hybrid symposium, which is one of the four most important conferences in the field of security.

Accepted papers are:

Stalloris: RPKI Downgrade Attack
We demonstrate the first downgrade attacks against RPKI. The key design property in RPKI that allows our attacks is the tradeoff between connectivity and security: when networks cannot retrieve RPKI information from publication points, they make routing decisions in BGP without validating RPKI. We exploit this tradeoff to develop attacks that prevent the retrieval of the RPKI objects from the public repositories, thereby disabling RPKI validation and exposing the RPKI-protected networks to prefix hijack attacks.

Authors: Tomas Hlavacek and Philipp Jeitner, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT and National Research Center for Applied Cyber­security ATHENE; Donika Mirdita, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT, National Research Center for Applied Cyber­security ATHENE, and Technische Universität Darmstadt; Haya Shulman, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT, National Research Center for Applied Cyber­security ATHENE, and Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; Michael Waidner, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT, National Research Center for Applied Cyber­security ATHENE, and Technische Universität Darmstadt
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XDRI Attacks - and - How to Enhance Resilience of Residential Routers
We explore the security of residential routers and find a range of critical vulnerabilities. Our evaluations show that 10 out of 36 popular routers are vulnerable to injections of fake records via misinterpretation of special characters. We also find that in 15 of the 36 routers the mechanisms, that are meant to prevent cache poisoning attacks, can be circumvented.

Authors: Philipp Jeitner, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT and National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity ATHENE; Haya Shulman, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT, National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity ATHENE, and Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; Lucas Teichmann, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT; Michael Waidner, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT, National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity ATHENE, and Technische Universität Darmstadt
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Ghost Peak: Practical Distance Reduction Attacks Against HRP UWB Ranging
We present the first over-the-air attack on IEEE 802.15.4z High-Rate Pulse Repetition Frequency (HRP) Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) distance measurement systems. Specifically, we demonstrate a practical distance reduction attack against pairs of Apple U1 chips (embedded in iPhones and AirTags), as well as against U1 chips inter-operating with NXP and Qorvo UWB chips. These chips have been deployed in a wide range of phones and cars to secure car entry and start and are projected for secure contactless payments, home locks, and contact tracing systems. Our attack operates without any knowledge of cryptographic material, results in distance reductions from 12m (actual distance) to 0m (spoofed distance) with attack success probabilities of up to 4%, and requires only an inexpensive (USD 65) off-the-shelf device. Access control can only tolerate sub-second latencies to not inconvenience the user, leaving little margin to perform time-consuming verifications. These distance reductions bring into question the use of UWB HRP in security-critical applications.

Authors: Patrick Leu and Giovanni Camurati, ETH Zurich; Alexander Heinrich, TU Darmstadt; Marc Roeschlin and Claudio Anliker, ETH Zurich; Matthias Hollick, TU Darmstadt; Srdjan Capkun, ETH Zurich; Jiska Classen, TU Darmstadt
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How Long Do Vulnerabilities Live in the Code? A Large-Scale Empirical Measurement Study on FOSS Vulnerability Lifetimes
In this paper, we provide an automatic approach for accurately estimating how long vulnerabilities remain in the code (their lifetimes). Our method relies on the observation that while it is difficult to pinpoint the exact point of introduction for one vulnerability, it is possible to accurately estimate the average lifetime of a large enough sample of vulnerabilities, via a heuristic approach.

Authors: Nikolaos Alexopoulos, Manuel Brack, Jan Philipp Wagner, Tim Grube, und Max Mühlhäuser, Technical University of Darmstadt
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GhostTouch: Targeted Attacks on Touchscreens without Physical Touch
In this paper, we present GhostTouch, the first active contactless attack against capacitive touchscreens. GhostTouch uses electromagnetic interference (EMI) to inject fake touch points into a touchscreen without the need to physically touch it. By tuning the parameters of the electromagnetic signal and adjusting the antenna, we can inject two types of basic touch events, taps and swipes, into targeted locations of the touchscreen and control them to manipulate the underlying device. We successfully launch the GhostTouch attacks on nine smartphone models. We can inject targeted taps continuously with a standard deviation of as low as 14.6 x 19.2 pixels from the target area, a delay of less than 0.5s and a distance of up to 40mm. We show the real-world impact of the GhostTouch attacks in a few proof-of-concept scenarios, including answering an eavesdropping phone call, pressing the button, swiping up to unlock, and entering a password. Finally, we discuss potential hardware and software countermeasures to mitigate the attack.

Authors: Kai Wang, Zhejiang University; Richard Mitev, Technical University of Darmstadt; Chen Yan und Xiaoyu Ji, Zhejiang University; Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Technical University of Darmstadt; Wenyuan Xu, Zhejiang University
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GPU-accelerated PIR with Client-Independent Preprocessing for Large-Scale Applications
In this work, we introduce Client-Independent Preprocessing (CIP) PIR that moves (t −1)/n of the online computation to a local, client independent, preprocessing phase suitable for efficient batch precomputations. The online performance of CIP-PIR improves linearly with the number of servers n. We show that large-scale applications like C3 with PIR are practical by implementing our CIP-PIR scheme using a parallelized CPU implementation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first multi-server PIR scheme whose preprocessing phase is completely independent of the client, and where online performance simultaneously improves with the number of servers n. In addition, we accelerate for the first time the huge amount of XOR operations in multi-server PIR with GPUs. Our GPUbased CIP-PIR achieves an improvement up to factor 2.1× over our CPU-based implementation for n = 2 servers, and enables a client to query an entry in a 25 GB database within less than 1 second.

Authors: Daniel Günther und Maurice Heymann, Technical University of Darmstadt; Benny Pinkas, Bar-Ilan University; Thomas Schneider, Technical University of Darmstadt
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Investigating State-of-the-Art Practices for Fostering Subjective Trust in Online Voting through Interviews
Through interviews with 26 participants, this work presents the first analysis of voters' perceptions considering state-of-the-art practices that help voters determine their trust in Internet voting. Among our results, we show practices, such as expert evaluations, that we identified as mandatory. Further, we found practices, such as individual verifiability, that facilitate trust. Others, such as vote updating, have a negative impact due to unfamiliarity. We, furthermore, report misconceptions, discuss ways to address them through different information interfaces or as part of the voting software. Finally, we list recommendations for the specific realization of expedient practices to inform developers and policymakers.

Authors: Karola Marky, Leibniz University Hannover and University of Glasgow; Paul Gerber and Sebastian Günther, Technical University of Darmstadt; Mohamed Khamis, University of Glasgow; Maximilian Fries and Max Mühlhäuser, Technical University of Darmstadt
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TheHuzz: Instruction Fuzzing of Processors Using Golden-Reference Models for Finding Software-Exploitable Vulnerabilities
In this paper, we present the design and implementation of a novel hardware fuzzer, TheHuzz, that overcomes the aforementioned limitations and significantly improves the state of the art. We analyze the intrinsic behaviors of hardware designs in HDLs and then measure the coverage metrics that model such behaviors. TheHuzz generates assembly-level instructions to increase the desired coverage values, thereby finding many hardware bugs that are exploitable from software. We evaluate TheHuzz on four popular open-source processors and achieve 1.98× and 3.33× the speed compared to the industry-standard random regression approach and the state-of-the-art hardware fuzzer, DifuzzRTL, respectively. Using TheHuzz, we detected 11 bugs in these processors, including 8 new bugs, and we demonstrate exploits using the detected bugs. We also show that TheHuzz overcomes the limitations of formal verification tools from the semiconductor industry by comparing its findings to those discovered by the Cadence JasperGold tool.

Authors: Rahul Kande, Addison Crump, and Garrett Persyn, Texas A&M University; Patrick Jauernig and Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Technische Universität Darmstadt; Aakash Tyagi and Jeyavijayan Rajendran, Texas A&M University
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V'CER: Efficient Certificate Validation in Constrained Networks
We address the challenging problem of efficient trust establishment in constrained networks, i.e., networks that are composed of a large and dynamic set of (possibly heterogeneous) devices with limited bandwidth, connectivity, storage, and computational capabilities. Constrained networks are an integral part of many emerging application domains, from IoT meshes to satellite networks. A particularly difficult challenge is how to enforce timely revocation of compromised or faulty devices. Unfortunately, current solutions and techniques cannot cope with idiosyncrasies of constrained networks, since they mandate frequent real-time communication with centralized entities, storage and maintenance of large amounts of revocation information, and incur considerable bandwidth overhead.

Authors: David Koisser and Patrick Jauernig, Technical University Darmstadt; Gene Tsudik, University of California, Irvine; Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Technical University Darmstadt
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FLAME: Taming Backdoors in Federated Learning
Federated Learning (FL) is a collaborative machine learning approach allowing participants to jointly train a model without having to share their private, potentially sensitive local datasets with others. Despite its benefits, FL is vulnerable to so-called backdoor attacks, in which an adversary injects manipulated model updates into the federated model aggregation process so that the resulting model will provide targeted false predictions for specific adversary-chosen inputs. Proposed defenses against backdoor attacks based on detecting and filtering out malicious model updates consider only very specific and limited attacker models, whereas defenses based on differential privacy-inspired noise injection significantly deteriorate the benign performance of the aggregated model. To address these deficiencies, we introduce FLAME, a defense framework that estimates the sufficient amount of noise to be injected to ensure the elimination of backdoors. To minimize the required amount of noise, FLAME uses a model clustering and weight clipping approach. This ensures that FLAME can maintain the benign performance of the aggregated model while effectively eliminating adversarial backdoors. Our evaluation of FLAME on several datasets stemming from application areas including image classification, word prediction, and IoT intrusion detection demonstrates that FLAME removes backdoors effectively with a negligible impact on the benign performance of the models.

Authors: Thien Duc Nguyen and Phillip Rieger, Technical University of Darmstadt; Huili Chen, University of California San Diego; Hossein Yalame, Helen Möllering, and Hossein Fereidooni, Technical University of Darmstadt; Samuel Marchal, Aalto University and F-Secure; Markus Miettinen, Technical University of Darmstadt; Azalia Mirhoseini, Google; Shaza Zeitouni, Technical University of Darmstadt; Farinaz Koushanfar, University of California San Diego; Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi and Thomas Schneider, Technical University of Darmstadt
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