New “GoFetch” Vulnerability in Apple M-Series Chips Leaks Secret Encryption Keys


A new security shortcoming discovered in Apple M-series chips could be exploited to extract secret keys used during cryptographic operations.

Dubbed GoFetch, the vulnerability relates to a microarchitectural side-channel attack that takes advantage of a feature known as data memory-dependent prefetcher (DMP) to target constant-time cryptographic implementations and capture sensitive data from the CPU cache. Apple was made aware of the findings in December 2023.

Prefetchers are a hardware optimization technique that predicts what memory addresses a currently running program will access in the near future and retrieve the data into the cache accordingly from the main memory. The goal of this approach is to reduce the program’s memory access latency.

DMP is a type of prefetcher that takes into account the contents of memory based on previously observed access patterns when determining what to prefetch. This behavior makes it ripe for cache-based attacks that trick the prefetcher into revealing the contents associated with a victim process that should be otherwise inaccessible.

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