Corporate Security Blog

RAMBleed DRAM Vulnerabilities

Eric Maurice
Director of Security Assurance

On June 11th, security researchers published a paper titled “RAMBleed Reading Bits in Memory without Accessing Them”.  This paper describes attacks against Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) modules that are already susceptible to Rowhammer-style attacks.

The new attack methods described in this paper are not microprocessor-specific, they leverage known issues in DRAM memory.  These attacks only impact DDR4 and DDR3 memory modules, and older generations DDR2 and DDR1 memory modules are not vulnerable to these attacks.

While the RAMBleed issues leverage RowHammer, RAMBleed is different in that confidentiality of data may be compromised: RAMBleed uses RowHammer as a side channel to discover the values of adjacent memory. 

Please note that successfully leveraging RAMBleed exploits require that the malicious attacker be able to locally execute malicious code against the targeted system. 

At this point in time, Oracle believes that:

  • All current and many older families of Oracle x86 (X5, X6, X7, X8, E1) and Oracle SPARC servers (S7, T7, T8, M7, M8) employing DDR4 DIMMs are not expected to be impacted by RAMBleed.  This is because Oracle only employs DDR4 DIMMs that have implemented the Target Row Refresh (TRR) defense mechanism against RowHammer.  Oracle’s memory suppliers have stated that these implementations have been designed to be effective against RowHammer. 
  • Older systems making use of DDR3 memory are also not expected to be impacted by RAMBleed because they are making use of a combination of other RowHammer mitigations (e.g., pseudo-TRR and increased DIMM refresh rates in addition to Error-Correcting Code (ECC)).  Oracle is currently not aware of any research that would indicate that the combination of these mechanisms would not be effective against RAMBleed. 
  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is not impacted by the RAMBleed issues because OCI servers only use DDR4 memory with built-in defenses as previously described.  Exadata Engineered Systems use DDR4 memory (X5 family and newer) and DDR3 memory (X4 family and older).
  • Finally, Oracle does not believe that additional software patches will need to be produced to address the RAMBleed issues, as these memory issues can be only be addressed through hardware configuration changes.  In other words, no additional security patches are expected for Oracle product distributions.
For more information about Oracle Corporate Security Practices, see https://www.oracle.com/corporate/security-practices/