A Lightweight Delay-based Authentication Scheme for DMA Attack Mitigation

Yutian Gui, Ali Shuja Siddiqui, Geraldine Shirley Nicholas, Marcus Hughes, Fareena Saqib
University of North Carolina at Charlotte


The architectural optimizations to bridge the gap of memory access speed and processing power utilize Direct Memory Access (DMA) to improve the efficiency of data transfer between the peripheral and host system. However, these optimizations introduce security vulnerabilities and expose the process of data transmission to DMA attacks, that utilize the feature of direct access to steal the data stored in the live memory on the victim system. In this paper, we propose a lightweight scheme to provide resilience to DMA attacks without any physical and protocol-level modification. The proposed scheme constructs a unique identifier for each DMA-supported PCIe device based on profiling time and builds a trusted database for authentication. The experimental result shows that the proposed methodology can eliminate the noise produced in the measuring process for identifier construction, and authenticate with a 100% success rate.