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January 24, 2019 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST

Speaker: Andrea Mambretti, PhD Student at Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences, Northeastern University

Date: January 24, 2019

Time: 1:00pm

Location: Northeastern University, 655 Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Complex (ISEC), 805 Columbus Ave, Boston MA, 02120

Title: Let’s Not Speculate: Discovering and Analyzing Speculative Execution Attacks


Speculative execution attacks exploit vulnerabilities at a CPU’s microarchitectural level, which, until recently, remained hidden below the instruction set architecture, largely undocumented by CPU vendors. New speculative execution attacks are released on a monthly basis, showing how aspects of the so-far unexplored microarchitectural attack surface can be exploited.

In this talk, I will describe how to generalize speculative execution related attacks and identify common components. The structured approach I propose helps to identify potential new variants of speculative execution attacks. I will cover one such variant, SPLITSPECTRE. Further, I’ll present Speculator, a novel tool to investigate speculative execution behavior critical to these new microarchitectural attacks. Finally, I am going to talk about the results and insights Speculator was able to unlock on multiple architectures.

About the Speaker

Andrea Mambretti is a PhD student in the Information Assurance program at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer and Information Science, advised by Professors William Robertson and Engin Kirda. His research is primarily focused on making compiler and operating systems more secure. Andrea earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from Politecnico di Milano in Italy as well as his master’s degree from the same university before working on his master’s thesis at Northeastern University’s System Security Lab in 2014.


January 24, 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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ISEC 601
805 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02120 United States
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