October 2, 2023

Researchers from Tohoku University, CASA at Ruhr University Bochum, NTT Social Informatics Laboratories have made a significant breakthrough with the development of a powerful new cipher called SCARF.

This cipher aims to combat the growing threat of cache side-channel attacks and offer robust security measures for modern computer systems.

Cache side-channel attacks have become a major concern, as they can quietly extract sensitive information, such as passwords and secret keys, from unsuspecting users. To thwart such attacks, cache randomization has emerged as a promising countermeasure, but finding a secure and effective mathematical function has been difficult.


According to the researchers, SCARF cipher is distinguished by its comprehensive mathematical formulation and modeling of cache side-channel attacks. SCARF significantly reduces latency during the randomization process, making it an ideal solution for cache randomization. It ensures both security and performance.

Researchers highlighted the cipher’s compatibility with various modern computer architectures, demonstrating its widespread applicability and significant contribution to bolstering security and its strength in rigorous hardware evaluations and system-level simulations

The importance of cache randomization goes beyond mitigating cache side-channel attack vulnerabilities, SCARF may pave the way for safeguarding sensitive data and user privacy across multiple platforms.

The study’s abstract outlines the significance of randomized cache architectures in increasing the complexity of contention-based cache side-channel attacks.


Randomizing the address-to-cache-index mapping prevents attackers from easily constructing minimal eviction sets, which are crucial for such attacks.

Randomized caches retain the flexibility of traditional caches, making them suitable for a variety of CPU types and more favorable than cache partitioning approaches.

The development of SCARF could represent a significant step forward in computer security. Its cache randomization and security features offer a tool in the ongoing battle against spy programs and cache side-channel attacks.

The study’s findings were published in the Cryptology ePrint Archive

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