Maya: Using Formal Control to Obfuscate Power Side Channels

Raghavendra Pradyumna Pothukuchi, Sweta Yamini Pothukuchi, Petros G. Voulgaris, Alexander Schwing, Josep Torrellas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The security of computers is at risk because of information leaking through their power consumption. Attackers can use advanced signal measurement and analysis to recover sensitive data from this side channel. To address this problem, this article presents Maya, a simple and effective defense against power side channels. The idea is to use formal control to re-shape the power dissipated by a computer in an application-transparent mannerâ€Â"preventing attackers from learning any information about the applications that are running. With formal control, a controller can reliably keep power consumption close to a desired target function even when runtime conditions change unpredictably. By selecting the target function intelligently, the controller can make power to follow any desired shape, appearing to carry activity information which, in reality, is unrelated to the application. Maya can be implemented in privileged software, firmware and hardware. We implement Maya on three machines using only privileged threads against machine learning based attacks, and show its effectiveness and ease of deployment. Maya has already thwarted a newly developed remote power attack.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-58
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Micro
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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