MACTA: A Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning Approach for Cache Timing Attacks and DetectionDownload PDF


22 Sept 2022, 12:39 (modified: 19 Nov 2022, 08:41)ICLR 2023 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
Keywords: multi-agent reinforcement learning, security, game theory
Abstract: Security vulnerabilities in computer systems raise serious concerns as computers process an unprecedented amount of private and sensitive data today. Cache-timing attacks pose an important practical threat as they have been shown to be able to effectively breach many protection mechanisms in today's system. However, the current detection of cache timing attacks relies heavily on heuristics and expert knowledge, which can lead to brittleness and inability to adapt to new attacks. To mitigate these problems, we develop a two-player environment for cache-timing attacks and detection, and leverage the idea of population-based multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) to train both attackers and detectors. Our empirical results indicate that, without any manual input from security experts, the trained attacker is able to act more stealthily while the trained detector can generalize to \emph{unseen} attacks and is less exploitable to high-bandwidth attacks. Furthermore, in this environment, we found that agents equipped with a Transformer encoder substantially outperform agents with multi-layer perceptrons encoders, which has been commonly used in RL tasks, suggesting that Transformer may learn better representations in such real-world tasks.
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