Hammulator: Simulate Now - Exploit Later

Fabian Thomas, Lukas Gerlach, Michael Schwarz



June 17


Rowhammer, first considered a reliability issue, turned out to be a significant threat to the security of systems. Hence, several mitigation techniques have been proposed to prevent the exploitation of the Rowhammer effect. Consequently, attackers developed more sophisticated hammering and exploitation techniques to circumvent mitigations. Still, the development and testing of Rowhammer exploits can be a tedious process, taking multiple hours to get the bit flip at the correct location. In this paper, we propose Hammulator, an open-source rapid-prototyping framework for Rowhammer exploits. We simulate the Rowhammer effect using the gem5 simulator and DRAMsim3 model, with a parameterizable implementation that allows researchers to simulate various types of systems. Hammulator enables faster and more deterministic bit flips, facilitating the development of Rowhammer proof-of-concept exploits and defenses. We evaluate our simulator by reproducing 2 open-source Rowhammer exploits. We also evaluate 2 previously proposed mitigations, PARA and TRR, in our simulator. Additionally, our micro- and macrobenchmarks show that our simulator has a small average overhead in the range of 6.96 % to 10.21 %. Our results show that Hammulator can be used to compare Rowhammer exploits objectively by providing a consistent testing environment. Hammulator and all experiments and evaluations are open source, hoping to ease the research on Rowhammer.