In simple words, Microarchitecture is the design and layout of various processor components at the hardware level. These include data paths, logic units, and control mechanisms. In terms of cybersecurity, Microarchitecture influences systems’ vulnerability to different types of attacks and may affect the design of security measures at the hardware level.
See also: hardware virtualization
Common examples of microarchitecture considerations:
- Hardware security extensions: Now, many microarchitectures have security features within them, like Intel’s software guard extensions or security memory encryption. These modern features protect from software-based attacks by encrypting memory data.
- Attack vulnerabilities: Some microarchitectural designs are susceptible to side-channel attacks. Attacks like Meltdown and Spectre can exploit vulnerabilities of the processor features and access sensitive data.
- Energy-efficient features: In IoT devices, microarchitectural designs evolved to balance security and energy efficiency by adding features like low-power encryption acceleration.