• Welcome to TechPowerUp Forums, Guest! Please check out our forum guidelines for info related to our community.

13 Major Vulnerabilities Discovered in AMD Zen Architecture, Including Backdoors

btarunr

Editor & Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
35,254 (8.96/day)
Likes
17,886
Location
Hyderabad, India
System Name Crypto-plague Survival Kit
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard ASUS Z97-A
Cooling Xigmatek Aegir CPU Cooler
Memory 2x 8GB Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3-1866
Video Card(s) Colorful iGame GTX 1070 Ti Vulcan X
Storage ADATA SU800 512GB + Intel SSD320 120GB + Patriot WildFire 120GB
Display(s) Samsung U28D590 28-inch 4K UHD
Case Corsair Carbide 100R
Audio Device(s) Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe
Power Supply Corsair HX850W
Mouse Razer Abyssus
Keyboard Microsoft Sidewinder X4
Software Windows 10 Pro
#1
Security researchers with Israel-based CTS-Labs, have discovered a thirteen security vulnerabilities for systems based on AMD Zen processors. The thirteen new exploits are broadly classified into four groups based on the similarity in function of the processor that they exploit: "Ryzenfall," "Masterkey," "Fallout," and "Chimera."

The researchers "believe that networks that contain AMD computers are at a considerable risk," and that malware can "survive computer reboots and re-installations of the operating system, while remaining virtually undetectable by most endpoint security solutions," such as antivirus software. They also mention that in their opinion, "the basic nature of some of these vulnerabilities amounts to complete disregard of fundamental security principles. This raises concerning questions regarding security practices, auditing, and quality controls at AMD."



Since this story went up some follow ups were posted:

1. "Masterkey": This is an exploit of the Secure Boot feature, which checks if nothing has been tampered with on your machine while it was powered down (i.e. changes in firmware, hardware, or the last software state before shutdown). The Masterkey vulnerability gets around this environment integrity check by using an infected system BIOS, which can be flashed even from within Windows (with administrative privileges). This does not mean that the user has to modify and flash the BIOS manually before becoming vulnerable, the malware can do that on the fly once it is running. Theoretically, Secure Boot should validate the integrity of the BIOS, but apparently this can be bypassed, exploiting bugs in the Secure Processor's metadata parsing. Once the BIOS signature is out of the way, you can put pretty much any ARM Cortex A5 compatible code into the modified BIOS, which will then execute inside the ARM-based Secure Processor - undetectable to any antivirus software running on the main CPU, because the antivirus software running on the CPU has no way to scan inside the Secure Processor.

2. "Ryzenfall" is a class of vulnerabilities targeting Secure Processor, which lets a well-designed malware stash its code into the Secure Processor of a running system, to get executed for the remainder of the system's up-time. Again, this attack requires administrative privileges on the host machine, but can be performed in real-time, on the running system, without modifying the firmware. Secure Processor uses system RAM, in addition to its own in-silicon memory on the processor's die. While this part of memory is fenced off from access by the CPU, bugs exist that can punch holes into that protection. Code running on the Secure Processor has complete access to the system; Microsoft Virtualization-based Security (VBS) can be bypassed and additional malware can be placed into system management storage, where it can't be detected by traditional antivirus software. Windows Defender Credentials Guard, a component that stores and authenticates passwords and other secure functions on the machine, can also be bypassed and the malware can spread over the network to other machines, or the firmware can be modified to exploit "Masterkey", which persists through reboots, undetectable.

3. "Fallout": This class of vulnerabilities affects only AMD EPYC servers. It requires admin privileges like the other exploits, and has similar effects. It enables an attacker to gain access to memory regions like Windows Isolated User Mode / Kernel Mode (VTL1) and Secure Management RAM of the CPU (which are not accessible, even with administrative privileges). Risks are the same as "Ryzenfall", the attack vector is just different.

4. "Chimera": This class of vulnerabilities is an exploitation of the motherboard chipset (e.g. X370 also known as Promontory). AMD outsourced design of their Ryzen chipsets to Taiwanese ASMedia, which is a subsidiary of ASUS. You might know the company from the third-party USB 3.0 and legacy PCI chips on many motherboards. The company has been fined for lax security practices in the past, and numerous issues were found in their earlier controller chips. For the AMD chipset, it looks like they just copy-pasted a lot of code and design, including vulnerabilities. The chipset runs its own code that tells it what to do, and here's the problem: Apparently a backdoor has been implemented that gives any attacker knowing the right passcode full access to the chipset, including arbitrary code execution inside the chipset. This code can now use the system's DMA (direct memory access) engine to read/write system memory, which allows malware injection into the OS. To exploit this attack vector, administrative privileges are required. Whether DMA can access the fenced off memory portions of the Secure Processor, to additionally attack the Secure Processor through this vulnerability, is not fully confirmed, however, the researchers verified it works on a small number of desktop boards. Your keyboard, mouse, network controllers, wired or wireless, are all connected to the chipset, which opens up various other attack mechanisms like keyloggers (that send off their logs by directly accessing the network controller without the CPU/OS ever knowing about these packets), or logging all interesting network traffic, even if its destination is another machine on the same Ethernet segment. As far as we know, the tiny 8-pin serial ROM chip is connected to the CPU on AMD Ryzen platform, not to the chipset or LPCIO controller, so infecting the firmware might not be possible with this approach. A second backdoor was found that is implemented in the physical chip design, so it can't be mitigated by a software update, and the researchers hint at the requirement for a recall.

AMD's Vega GPUs use an implementation of the Secure Processor, too, so it is very likely that Vega is affected in a similar way. An attacker could infect the GPU, and then use DMA to access the rest of the system through the attacks mentioned above.

The researchers have set up the website AMDFlaws.com to chronicle these findings, and to publish detailed whitepapers in the near future.

AMD provided us with the following statement: "We have just received a report from a company called CTS Labs claiming there are potential security vulnerabilities related to certain of our processors. We are actively investigating and analyzing its findings. This company was previously unknown to AMD and we find it unusual for a security firm to publish its research to the press without providing a reasonable amount of time for the company to investigate and address its findings. At AMD, security is a top priority and we are continually working to ensure the safety of our users as potential new risks arise."

Update March 14 7 AM CET: It seems a lot of readers misunderstand the BIOS flashing part. The requirement is not that the user has to manually flash a different BIOS first before becoming vulnerable. The malware itself will modify/flash the BIOS once it is running on the host system with administrative privileges. Also, the signed driver requirement does not require a driver from any specific vendor. The required driver (which is not for an actual hardware device and just provides low-level hardware access) can be easily created by any hacker. Signing the driver, so Windows accepts it, requires a digital signature which is available from various SSL vendors for a few hundred dollars after a fairly standard verification process (requires a company setup with bank account). Alternatively an already existing signed driver from various hardware utilities could be extracted and used for this purpose.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2007
Messages
6,764 (1.72/day)
Likes
1,419
System Name The Green Knight
Processor Intel i5 8600k @4.9GHz w/ Corsair H100i CPU AiO w/Corsair HD120 RBG fan
Motherboard Asus Z370-E Gaming
Cooling 6x120mm Corsair HD120 RBG fans
Memory Corsair Vengeance RBG 2x8GB 3600MHz
Video Card(s) Asus DirectCUII GTX 980 STRIX
Storage Samsung 960 EVO m.2, Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD, 2TB backup, 10TB Synology DS1515+ RAID-5
Display(s) Acer Predator 34" 3440x1440 OC'd to 100MHz
Case Corsair 570x RBG Tempered Glass
Audio Device(s) Onboard / Corsair Void Wireless RGB
Power Supply Corsair HX750w Professional Series
Mouse Logitech G602s
Keyboard Corsair K70 Rapidfire
Software Windows 10 x64 Professional
Benchmark Scores Firestrike - 11471 @4.9GHz 980 stock @1178 core 1753 memory 1279 boost Unigine Heaven - 1824
#2
Take THAT AMD. I dont wanna hear the fanbois anymore.
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2010
Messages
3,138 (1.04/day)
Likes
1,123
Location
Portugal
System Name _JP_'s Daily Driver
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 1700
Motherboard MSI X370 Gaming Plus
Cooling Noctua NH-C12P SE14 + NM-AM4 + NF-P14r
Memory 2x 8GB G.Skill Trident Z (F4-3200C16D-16GTZB)(Hynix)
Video Card(s) MSI AMD Radeon R9 280X Gaming
Storage HyperX Savage 240GB + KC300 240GB + 750EVO 500GB
Display(s) LG Flatron W2361V 23'' FHD
Case NOX Blaze
Audio Device(s) ASUS Xonar DX
Power Supply Corsair TX650M
Mouse Microsoft Comfort Mouse 4500
Keyboard Logitech Media Keyboard (PS/2)
Software Windows 10 x86-64 (1703)
#3
Like Reddit is also weed whacking this thing to oblivion, it looks like a pure smear campaign.
Red flags:
- 24h deadline before publishing
- All flaws require administrative rights in order to accomplish anything (one requires flashing firmware)
- All domains, linkedin records and so forth for a "16 year" in operations company date back at best...a year.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
1,435 (4.14/day)
Likes
755
Location
Poland
System Name skurwiel szatan
Processor i7 5775c
Motherboard Z97X Gaming 5
Cooling Noctua D15S
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP DDR3L 2133MHz 9-9-9-27-1T 1.512v.
Video Card(s) GTX 1080 SuperJetstream overcucked to ~2152MHz
Storage Samsung 850 Pro 256(x2)+512GB / 3TB+1TB HDDs
Display(s) Acer XB241YU+Dell S2716DG dual monitor setup
Case Full tower
Audio Device(s) Mad Catz FREQ wireless
Power Supply Superflower Leadex Gold 850W
Mouse G403 wireless + Steelseries DeX + Roccat rest
Keyboard Razer Deathstalker
Software Windows 10
Benchmark Scores A LOT
#4
Whohohoa ! That's a lot !

Is this like meltdown or spectre which can affect AMD too or does it not affect intel at all ?
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2016
Messages
101 (0.14/day)
Likes
59
System Name Purple Stuff
Processor Intel Core I7-8700K @ 5.0 Ghz
Motherboard Asus ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming
Cooling NZXT Kraken X62
Memory Corsair Vengence 16 GB DDR4 @ 3600 Mhz
Video Card(s) Asus ROG Strix GTX 1080 TI
Storage Samsung EVO 960 500 GB, HDD 4TB WD Black, SSD Crucial MX400 1TB
Display(s) Acer Predator XB271HU 27" x2
Case Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Tempered Glass
Power Supply Seasonic Focus + Platinum 850 W
Mouse Steelseries Rival 700
Keyboard Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2
Software Win 10 Pro
#5
Wow and I thought Intel had a a bumpy road ahead ... this is going to be interesting to say the least.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
46 (0.02/day)
Likes
12
Location
Tottenham ON
System Name Current
Processor i7 3930k @ 4.2GHz @ 1.35v
Motherboard Asus X79 Deluxe
Cooling 320 Radiator
Memory 16GB Corsair
Video Card(s) GTX 570
Storage Crucial M4 128GB, Mushkin Deluxe 240GB, WD Black 500 GB.
Display(s) Asus 24" & Asus 23"
Case Coolermaster HAF-X
Audio Device(s) Onboard
Power Supply Seasonic 1000W Platinum
#6
I wonder what the performance hit will be for fixing some of these.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2007
Messages
6,764 (1.72/day)
Likes
1,419
System Name The Green Knight
Processor Intel i5 8600k @4.9GHz w/ Corsair H100i CPU AiO w/Corsair HD120 RBG fan
Motherboard Asus Z370-E Gaming
Cooling 6x120mm Corsair HD120 RBG fans
Memory Corsair Vengeance RBG 2x8GB 3600MHz
Video Card(s) Asus DirectCUII GTX 980 STRIX
Storage Samsung 960 EVO m.2, Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD, 2TB backup, 10TB Synology DS1515+ RAID-5
Display(s) Acer Predator 34" 3440x1440 OC'd to 100MHz
Case Corsair 570x RBG Tempered Glass
Audio Device(s) Onboard / Corsair Void Wireless RGB
Power Supply Corsair HX750w Professional Series
Mouse Logitech G602s
Keyboard Corsair K70 Rapidfire
Software Windows 10 x64 Professional
Benchmark Scores Firestrike - 11471 @4.9GHz 980 stock @1178 core 1753 memory 1279 boost Unigine Heaven - 1824
#8
Joined
Oct 2, 2004
Messages
13,275 (2.63/day)
Likes
6,515
Location
Slovenia/Europe
System Name Dark Silence 2
Processor Intel Core i7 5820K @ 4.5 GHz (1.15V)
Motherboard MSI X99A Gaming 7
Cooling Cooler Master Nepton 120XL
Memory 32 GB DDR4 Kingston HyperX Fury 2400 MHz @ 2666 MHz
Video Card(s) AORUS GeForce GTX 1080Ti 11GB
Storage Samsung 850 Pro 2TB SSD (3D V-NAND)
Display(s) ASUS VG248QE 144Hz 1ms (DisplayPort)
Case Corsair Carbide 330R Titanium
Audio Device(s) Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 + Altec Lansing MX5021 (HiFi capacitors and OPAMP upgrade)
Power Supply BeQuiet! Dark Power Pro 11 750W
Mouse Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum
Keyboard Cherry Stream XT Black
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
#9
The first is a very unlikely scenario because you need to craft it specifically for the exact board. The other 3 however, that sucks. Both, AMD and Intel will have to do dramatic changes if they want to sell new stuff, especially to businesses. Home users often just don't care, but corporate is not as unforgiving.
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
6,440 (1.65/day)
Likes
1,888
Location
Austin Texas
System Name Gamesies i5
Processor Intel i7 7820X Delidded @ 4.95Ghz HT OFF / 3.2Ghz Mesh
Motherboard MSI X299 Tomahawk
Cooling 240mm Corsair H105 Intake
Memory 32 GB Quad 4040Mhz DDR4 18-19-18-36-360-1T
Video Card(s) Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti Gaming
Storage 1Tb Samsung 960 Pro m2, 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD
Display(s) Dell 24" 2560x1440 144hz, G-Sync @ 165Hz
Case NZXT S340 Elite Black w Magnetic Side Panel
Audio Device(s) Arctis 7
Power Supply FSP HydroG 750W
Mouse $15 500Mhz polling silent click no brand mouse
Keyboard Penclic tenkeyless
Software Windows 10 64 Bit
Benchmark Scores Cb: 1690 Multi, 223 Single, superpi 1M - 7.2s
#10
So basically... the biggest vulnerability is the meatsickle between the keyboard and the floor.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2010
Messages
101 (0.03/day)
Likes
13
#11
Conveniently they have set up naming charts that copy Intel's own.
Chimera(Spectre), Fallout(Meltdown), Masterkey(?), Ryzenfall(?).
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
1,435 (4.14/day)
Likes
755
Location
Poland
System Name skurwiel szatan
Processor i7 5775c
Motherboard Z97X Gaming 5
Cooling Noctua D15S
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP DDR3L 2133MHz 9-9-9-27-1T 1.512v.
Video Card(s) GTX 1080 SuperJetstream overcucked to ~2152MHz
Storage Samsung 850 Pro 256(x2)+512GB / 3TB+1TB HDDs
Display(s) Acer XB241YU+Dell S2716DG dual monitor setup
Case Full tower
Audio Device(s) Mad Catz FREQ wireless
Power Supply Superflower Leadex Gold 850W
Mouse G403 wireless + Steelseries DeX + Roccat rest
Keyboard Razer Deathstalker
Software Windows 10
Benchmark Scores A LOT
#12
So basically... the biggest vulnerability is the meatsickle between the keyboard and the floor.
As has always been the case.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
1,435 (4.14/day)
Likes
755
Location
Poland
System Name skurwiel szatan
Processor i7 5775c
Motherboard Z97X Gaming 5
Cooling Noctua D15S
Memory Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP DDR3L 2133MHz 9-9-9-27-1T 1.512v.
Video Card(s) GTX 1080 SuperJetstream overcucked to ~2152MHz
Storage Samsung 850 Pro 256(x2)+512GB / 3TB+1TB HDDs
Display(s) Acer XB241YU+Dell S2716DG dual monitor setup
Case Full tower
Audio Device(s) Mad Catz FREQ wireless
Power Supply Superflower Leadex Gold 850W
Mouse G403 wireless + Steelseries DeX + Roccat rest
Keyboard Razer Deathstalker
Software Windows 10
Benchmark Scores A LOT
#14
Still, 13 sounds downright disgusting for a consumer that purchased it in the last 12 months.
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
1,009 (2.02/day)
Likes
327
System Name My Super Computer
Processor Intel Core i7 8700K
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming
Cooling Corsair H55 AIO
Memory 2x8GB Crucial/Micron Ballistix Sport DDR4-2400
Video Card(s) ASUS GeForce GTX1060 6GB
Storage Samsung 860 EVO 500 GB SATA SSD
Display(s) HP 2311x and Acer G206HQL
Case CoolerMaster MasterBox Lite 5 RGB
Audio Device(s) On-Board Sound
Power Supply EVGA Supernova 650 G3 Gold
Mouse Logitech M705
Keyboard Logitech Wave K350
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Benchmark Scores https://valid.x86.fr/liwjs3
#16
This has the potential to be even worse than Spectre and Meltdown.
 
Low quality post by xkm1948
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
3,325 (0.88/day)
Likes
2,334
System Name Virtual Reality / Bioinformatics
Processor Undead CPU
Motherboard Undead TUF X99
Cooling Noctua NH-D15
Memory GSkill 128GB DDR4-3000
Video Card(s) Sapphire R9 Fury X
Storage Samsung 960 Pro 1TB, Crucial MX200 500GB
Display(s) Acer K272HUL, HTC Vive
Case Fractal Design R5
Power Supply Seasonic 850watt
Mouse Logitech Master MX
Keyboard Corsair K70 Cherry MX Blue
Software Windows 10 Professional/Linux Mint
Joined
Feb 8, 2012
Messages
2,922 (1.24/day)
Likes
2,131
Location
Zagreb, Croatia
System Name Windows 7 64-bit Core i5 3570K
Processor Intel Core i5 3570K @ 4.2 GHz, 1.26 V
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z77MX-D3H
Cooling Scythe Katana 4
Memory 4 x 4 GB G-Skill Sniper DDR3 @ 1600 MHz
Video Card(s) Gainward NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Phantom
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB, Seagate Baracuda 1 TB
Display(s) Dell P2414H
Case CoolerMaster Silencio 550
Audio Device(s) VIA HD Audio
Power Supply Corsair TX v2 650W
Mouse Steelseries Sensei
Keyboard CM Storm Quickfire Pro, Cherry MX Reds
Software MS Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit SP1
#20
All flaws require administrative rights in order to accomplish anything (one requires flashing firmware)
lol :laugh: exploiting security vulnerability with root privileges ... it's like having the superpower to pass through solid objects but still picking the door lock (that is btw only pickable when you have that superpower)
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
2,475 (1.35/day)
Likes
1,343
Location
USA
#21
It's not impossible to infect system BIOS with ring-0 privileged software, if the malware is tailor-made for a device.
@W1zzard I think @RejZoR was referring to that part of the statement, which is what I took from it as well.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
351 (0.25/day)
Likes
157
#22
This "security company" is based in Israel where Intel has it's most important design centre and one of the largest manufacturing facilities. The same Israel behind Stuxnet, by the way. Also a 24 hour notice and a site called amdflaws.com plus what I can only call promotional videos... soon we'll have the white helmets releasing clips from the CPUs civil war front...
This smells rotten for anyone but dumbed down minds... oh wait
 
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
3,816 (3.31/day)
Likes
1,409
Processor Intel i5-6600k
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Extreme7+
Cooling Arctic Cooling Freezer i11
Memory 2x8GB DDR4 2400 G.Skill
Video Card(s) EVGA GTX 1060 SC
Storage 128 and 256GB OCZ Vertex4, 500GB Samsung 850 EVO, 1TB Crucial MX300 and 3TB Seagate
Display(s) HP ZR24w
Case Chieftec BX01
Power Supply Seasonic 620W M12
Mouse Logitech G502 Proteus Core
Keyboard G.Skill KM780R
Joined
Jan 29, 2012
Messages
4,912 (2.08/day)
Likes
4,306
Location
Florida
System Name natr0n-PC
Processor Xeon E3-1290 / Phenom II X6 1100T / Dual Xeon X5675's
Motherboard Asus Sabertooth Z77 / MSI 970 Gaming / GIGABYTE GA-7TESM
Cooling Deep Cool Assassin / TRUE 120 / Stock
Memory Gskill Ripjaws X - 16GB DDR3 / Samsung Reg - 24GB DDR3 Hexa-Channel
Video Card(s) MSI 7970 / ASUS 980ti Strix
Storage Crucial MX300 525GB + Multiple Mechs
Display(s) SyncMaster 2343BWX 23" 2048x1152 / Dell 1909W 19" 1440x900
Audio Device(s) X-Fi Fatality / X-Fi Titanium
Power Supply Corsair TX650 v1/ EVGA SuperNOVA 750
Software Windows XP/7/8.1/10
Benchmark Scores Xeon E3-1290 cpuz world record
#24
It's like a game..."Don't worry Intel we'll fuck them just as hard"
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
3,325 (0.88/day)
Likes
2,334
System Name Virtual Reality / Bioinformatics
Processor Undead CPU
Motherboard Undead TUF X99
Cooling Noctua NH-D15
Memory GSkill 128GB DDR4-3000
Video Card(s) Sapphire R9 Fury X
Storage Samsung 960 Pro 1TB, Crucial MX200 500GB
Display(s) Acer K272HUL, HTC Vive
Case Fractal Design R5
Power Supply Seasonic 850watt
Mouse Logitech Master MX
Keyboard Corsair K70 Cherry MX Blue
Software Windows 10 Professional/Linux Mint
#25
Everything of these so called “white papers” seems fishy. Only one source, no independent duplication of their “research “ findings is a pretty serious red flag.

I am calling this b*llshit. Seems like some smearing operation. Ryzenfall, so amature and obvious.
 
Top