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I think it is definitely worth introspecting about the history. It has been known for over 20 years that sharing pretty much anything creates side channels but nobody knew how to reliably exploit them and it was assumed that side channels might never be exploitable. In recent years there has been massive progress in practical data extraction using side channels.





Theo (of OpenBSD) famously ranted about Intel's implementation of SMT/hyperthreading ~12 years ago https://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m=118296441702631&w=2

you sure about that link? he's talking about a core that didn't have SMT and is ranting, in general, about errata existing and wildly misrepresenting their impact

never mind that most errata are conditional until the ucode patch load, but that particular rant has nothing to do with HT


It have always been known how to exploit them. But doing so used to be slower and there have been fewer opportunities for attacks. OS kernels used to have Big Locks (AFAIK, OpenBSD still does), that significantly deterred programs from messing with kernel code and CPU caches.

Things have changed a lot since then: OS kernels became faster by eliminating a lot of unnecessary (?) cross-process overhead; browser makers made a number of potentially problematic decisions ("let's allow Javascript to create CPU threads — what could possibly go wrong?"); Linux kernel developers made few potentially problematic decisions ("let's allow unprivileged processes to invoke arbitrary BPF bytecode — that worked for Java, so what could possibly go wrong?")

A lot of small security lapses added up until it became viable to use CPU flaws to actually target ordinary users. To add insult to injury, certain corporations started spreading myth, that well-known insecure practices — such as knowingly running local software from questionable authors — are "safe enough" for general population. Topic web page even talks about running untrusted Android software, as if Android had some kind of impenetrable security boundary around untrusted apps.




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