A Toolkit for Micro-architectural Attacks on Mobile Devices (available)

Starting Date: Summer '21
Prerequisites: Good programming experience in C/C++ and Linux. Any systems programming, mobile development, and/or ARM assembly experience will be highly beneficial.
Will results be assigned to University:

Micro-architectural attacks leverage side-effects from modern processor features during the execution of secret-dependent code. These attacks have emerged in recent years as a potent vector for recovering cryptographic keys and other secret data. Despite this, very few implementations of published attacks have been released publicly on mobile devices, which has raised questions about their reproduciblity.

In this project, an open-source toolkit will be developed for reproducing micro-architectural attacks on mobile devices, such as cache attacks. The resulting toolkit will be developed for educational purposes and for assisting future research, while abiding by ethical best practices. The ISG-SCC currently has access to ARM-based development boards with hardware used by major smartphone manufacturers, which will be used as the main evaluation platforms. Producing high-quality documentation and a tutorial will be essential to assist other students, researchers, and practitioners in the field.


  • A toolkit for reproducing micro-architectural attacks on mobile devices.
  • A report and video recording detailing and demonstrating the toolkit in action.
  • Documentation and educational material describing the attacks and how to use the toolkit for mobile security research.

ISG-SCC Track Record

The ISG’s Smart Card and IoT Security Centre (ISG-SCC) has successfully run the UROP for the last three years. These years have produced a patent application (under review by patent office), a commercial demo (MVP), and five research papers. Undergraduate students are named as first authors on the papers and co-inventors on any patent applications. Research papers by undergraduate students have won a ‘best student paper award’ and being pivotal for a World Economic Forum’s project for anti-corruption project. The ISG-SCC’s ethos is that undergraduate students have the talent and imagination to sought interesting, unique and innovative solutions. They just need a guiding hand from established researchers, and this is what ISG-SCC will provide during the UROP project.