New research into the "Rowhammer" bug that resides in certain types of DDR memory chips raises a troubling new prospect: attacks that use Web applications or booby-trapped videos and documents to trigger so-called bitflipping exploits that allow hackers to take control of vulnerable computers.
The scenario is based on a finding that the Rowhammer vulnerability can be triggered by what's known as non-temporal code instructions. That opens vulnerable machines to several types of exploits that haven't been discussed in previous research papers. For instance, malicious Web applications could use non-temporal code to cause code to break out of browser security sandboxes and access sensitive parts of an operating system. Another example: attackers could take advantage of media players, file readers, file compression utilities, or other apps already installed on Rowhammer-susceptible machines and cause the apps to trigger the attacks.