According to Engadget, a new technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) might be able to strengthen a company’s system security without slowing down performance.
The solution, called Dynamically Allocated Way Guard (DAWG), will protect a company’s system against Meltdown and Spectre attacks, two major security weaknesses found in the processers in “virtually every computer on the planet.” Current protection methods, such as patches, help mitigate these attacks, but can still leave major security gaps and force the system to drag, Engadget says.
DAWG’s magic happens when memory caches on processors are isolated “in a way that prevents them from seeing anything they don’t need to need,” Engadget says. “MIT likens it to putting walls in a kitchen that prevent chefs from seeing each other’s ingredients and tools.” There are numerous, separate caches with their own domain identities, each of which is validated; new policies deal with cache “misses” that might signal an attack.
Engadget says that DAWG’s functionality mirrors that of Intel’s pre-Spectre Cache Allocation Technology, but offers “comparable performance.” While the solution might not be able to cache every speculative threat, it’s more advanced and better equipped to take on today’s breaches.
Waiting is the hardest part
Though MIT is making great strides on this solution, Engadget says that the current challenge is convincing companies to invest in DAWG. No matter how hard the university works, it’s not guaranteed that companies will bite, and even if there is interest, a long wait (until the industry deploys it) is still expected. As a result, decision makers who are considered opting for DAWG should keep an eye on MIT’s developments, and at what stage the technology is. Engadget says there is still a light at the end of the tunnel for decision makers looking for a solution to tighten their system’s security: “[there’s still] hope that there’s a true solution to Meltdown and Spectre that doesn’t involve a significant speed hit.”