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I want to discuss the following scenario:

I use a cloud provider like Amazon where every instance of the OS is a VM. The hypervisor launches the VMs as needed. So let's assume there are two VMs running, mine and attacker's on the same box at the same time.

Scenario 1: The attacker has root access to his VM. But does not have physical access to the box. What attack vectors do I worry about?

  • Obviously any vulnerabilities in my VM (OS and services it provides).
    Let's assume this is out of scope for this discussion

  • Vulnerabilities in the hypervisor that lets the attacker intercept all data to and from my VM. Are there known vulnerabilities like this?

  • Any other scenarios like DMA attacks?

Scenario 2: The attacker has physical access to the box. He manages the box and is able to install custom hardware or use the peripherals like USB, HDMI etc?

  • I know that one can introspect the VM he wants to attack directly as software-based attacks are easier. Let's assume it's out of scope.

marked as duplicate by Tom K., forest, Daisetsu, Matthew, Royce Williams Nov 24 '18 at 20:54

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I'm not aware of any AWS hypervisor bypasses to date, then again I don't use AWS. Here's an article (admittedly from 2014) talking about the concerns you raise.


While the hypervisor doesn't seem like a likely attack vector, there's lots of ways AWS setuos can come under attack here's a pretty good list as well as a real world scenario of AWS vulnerabilities


If an attacker has physical access to the system, it's safe to assume in all but the rarest if cases they can compromise the system in a potentially undetectable way.

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