What would the world be like if software had no bugs? Software systems
would be impenetrable and our data shielded from prying eyes? Not
quite. In this talk, I will present evidence that reliable attacks
targeting even "perfect" software are a realistic threat. Such attacks
exploit properties of modern hardware to completely
subvert a system, even in absence of software or configuration bugs.
To substantiate this claim, I will illustrate practical attacks in
real-world systems settings, such as browsers, clouds, and mobile. The
implications are worrisome. Even bug-free (say formally verified)
software can be successfully targeted by a relatively low-effort
attacker. Moreover, state-of-the-art security defenses, which have
proven useful to raise the bar against traditional software
exploitation techniques, are completely ineffective against such
attacks. It is time to revisit our assumptions on realistic
adversarial models and investigate defenses that consider threats in
the entire hardware/software stack. Pandora's box has been opened.