November 26 – December 1 , 2023, Dagstuhl Seminar 23481

MAD: Microarchitectural Attacks and Defenses


Christopher W. Fletcher (University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, US)
Marco Guarnieri (IMDEA Software Institute – Madrid, ES)
David Kohlbrenner (University of Washington – Seattle, US)
Clémentine Maurice (INRIA Lille, FR)

For support, please contact

Jutka Gasiorowski for administrative matters

Marsha Kleinbauer for scientific matters


Microarchitectural attacks, such as Spectre and Meltdown, are a recent class of security threats that affect almost all modern processors. These attacks target the hardware/software interface by exploiting the side-effects (like subtle timing differences in a program's execution time) resulting from a processor's internal optimizations to compromise a system's security. They affect a wide range of processors (from smartphone to server processors) and can be used to bypass and circumvent many software-level security mechanisms. Building systems that are resistant against such attacks requires fundamentally rethinking the design of hardware and software security mechanisms.

Recently, there has been a significant amount of research on (a) characterizing the microarchitectural side-effects of existing processors, (b) identifying new microarchitectural attacks, (c) developing hardware and software mechanisms for mitigating attacks, and (d) developing techniques for reasoning about microarchitectural leaks in hardware and software designs. Unfortunately, these research efforts originate from different research areas-computer security, computer architectures, applied cryptography, programming languages and verification-with only limited interactions across areas.

The Microarchitectural Attacks and Defenses (MAD) Dagstuhl Seminar will gather together leading researchers that are working on security at the hardware-software interface. This will provide an opportunity for (1) presenting a comprehensive overview of current advances in microarchitectural attacks and defenses, (2) fostering interaction and collaboration between researchers from different research communities, and (3) identifying new research directions and open challenges that need to be addressed to build systems resistant to microarchitectural attacks.

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 4.0
  Christopher W. Fletcher, Marco Guarnieri, David Kohlbrenner, and Clémentine Maurice


  • Cryptography And Security
  • Hardware Architecture
  • Programming Languages


  • Microarchitectural attacks
  • Hardware-software co-design for security
  • Security architectures
  • Side-channel analysis


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.