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'Spectra' Cyber Attack Breaks Coexistence Between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Nowadays wireless technologies are increasingly sharing spectrum. This is the case for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but also some LTE bands and harmonics. Operating on the same frequency means that these different technologies need to coordinate wireless spectrum access to avoid collisions. Especially for nearby sources, as it is the case for multiple chips within one smartphone, so-called coexistence is the key to high-performance spectrum sharing.

Coexistence between wireless chips can be implemented in various ways. While there are open specifications, most manufacturers opt to develop proprietary coexistence mechanisms to further improve performance. Open interfaces are not needed on combo chips that implement multiple wireless technologies, as the manufacturer has full control.

Spectra, a new vulnerability class, relies on the fact that transmissions happen in the same spectrum and wireless chips need to arbitrate the channel access. While coexistence should only increase performance, it also poses a powerful side channel.

Unfixable Flaw Found in Thunderbolt Port that Unlocks any PC in Less Than 5 Minutes

Dutch researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology has found a new vulnerability in Thunderbolt port that allows attackers with physical access to unlock any PC running Windows or Linux kernel-based OS in less than 5 minutes. The researcher of the university called Björn Ruytenberg found a method which he calls Thunderspy, which can bypass the login screen of any PC. This attack requires physical access to the device, which is, of course, dangerous on its own if left with a person of knowledge. The Thunderbolt port is a fast protocol, and part of the reason why it is so fast is that it partially allows direct access to computer memory. And anything that can access memory directly is a potential vulnerability.

The Thunderspy attack relies on just that. There is a feature built into the Thunderbolt firmware called "Security Level", which disallows access to untrusted devices or even turns off Thunderbolt port altogether. This feature would make the port be a simple USB or display output. However, the researcher has found a way to alter the firmware setting of Thunderbolt control chip in a way so it allows any device to access the PC. This procedure is done without any trace and OS can not detect that there was a change. From there, the magic happens. Using an SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) programmer with a SOP8 clip that connects the pins of the programmer device to the controller, the attacker just runs a script from there. This procedure requires around $400 worth of hardware. Intel already put some protection last year for the Thunderbolt port called Kernel Direct Memory Access Protection, but that feature isn't implemented on PCs manufactured before 2019. And even starting from 2019, not all PC manufacturers implement the feature, so there is a wide group of devices vulnerable to this unfixable attack.
Thunderspy attack

Researchers Find Unfixable Vulnerability Inside Intel CPUs

Researchers have found another vulnerability Inside Intel's Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME). For starters, the CSME is a tiny CPU within a CPU that has access to whole data throughput and is dedicated to the security of the whole SoC. The CSME system is a kind of a black box, given that Intel is protecting its documentation so it can stop its copying by other vendors, however, researchers have discovered a flaw in the design of CSME and are now able to exploit millions of systems based on Intel CPUs manufactured in the last five years.

Discovered by Positive Technologies, the flaw is lying inside the Read-Only Memory (ROM) of the CSME. Given that the Mask ROM is hardcoded in the CPU, the exploit can not be fixed by a simple firmware update. The researchers from Positive Technologies describe it as such: "Unfortunately, no security system is perfect. Like all security architectures, Intel's had a weakness: the boot ROM, in this case. An early-stage vulnerability in ROM enables control over the reading of the Chipset Key and generation of all other encryption keys. One of these keys is for the Integrity Control Value Blob (ICVB). With this key, attackers can forge the code of any Intel CSME firmware module in a way that authenticity checks cannot detect. This is functionally equivalent to a breach of the private key for the Intel CSME firmware digital signature, but limited to a specific platform."

Microsoft Releases Microcode Updates Adressing Intel CPU Vulnerabilities under Windows 10

Microsoft today has released several microcode updates for Intel CPUs. The updates are meant to be applied in a case-by-case basis under their Windows 10 operating system, and these updates target several releases of that OS (ranging from version 1507 through version 1903/1909). These address several vulnerability exploits related to side-channel and speculative execution attacks on Intel CPUs.

The updates need to be installed specifically for the Windows OS version you're rocking, and on systems with CPUs affected by the vulnerabilities and covered by this microcode update release. These include Intel's Denverton (Atom C3000 series); Sandy Bridge, Sandy Bridge E and EP (2000 and 3000 series), Valleyview (Atom Z3000 series) and Whiskey Lake U CPUs (8000U series, 5000U series, and 4200U series). These updates must be installed manually by users.

CacheOut is the Latest Speculative Execution Attack for Intel Processors

Another day, another speculative execution vulnerability found inside Intel processors. This time we are getting a new vulnerability called "CacheOut", named after the exploitation's ability to leak data stored inside CPU's cache memory. Dubbed CVE-2020-0549: "L1D Eviction Sampling (L1Des) Leakage" in the CVE identifier system, it is rated with a CVSS score of 6.5. Despite Intel patching a lot of similar exploits present on their CPUs, the CacheOut attack still managed to happen.

The CacheOut steals the data from the CPU's L1 cache, and it is doing it selectively. Instead of waiting for the data to become available, the exploit can choose which data it wants to leak. The "benefit" of this exploit is that it can violate almost every hardware-based security domain meaning that the kernel, co-resident VMs, and SGX (Software Guard Extensions) enclaves are in trouble. To mitigate this issue, Intel provided a microcode update to address the shortcomings of the architecture and they recommended possible mitigations to all OS providers, so you will be protected once your OS maker releases a new update. For a full list of processors affected, you can see this list. Additionally, it is worth pointing out that AMD CPUs are not affected by this exploit.

AMD Quietly Patched Four Major GPU Security Vulnerabilities with Radeon 20.1.1 Drivers

If you haven't updated your AMD Radeon drivers in a while, here's one major reason to. The company secretly patched four major security vulnerabilities affecting Radeon GPUs, in its recent Adrenalin 20.1.1 drivers, with no mention of doing so in its changelog. Talos Intelligence reports four vulnerabilities, which are are chronicled under CVE-2019-5124, CVE-2019-5146, CVE-2019-5147 and CVE-2019-5183. This class of attacks exploits a vulnerability in the AMD Radeon driver file ATIDXX64.dll, which can lead to denial of service or even remote code execution. What makes things much more serious is that this attack vector can be used to exploit the host machine from a VM (tested with VMWare). It even seems possible to trigger the vulnerability from a web page, through WebGL (which allows running 3D applications on a remote website). The vulnerabilities were tested on Radeon RX 550 / 550 Series VMware Workstation 15 (15.5.0 build-14665864) with Windows 10 x64 as guest VM, but there is no reason to assume that the issue is limited to just RX 550 as the AMD shader compiler shares a common code basis for all recent DirectX 12 GPUs.

All vulnerabilities rely on a common attack vector: specially crafted shader code that exploits bugs in the shader compiler. Even though HLSL shader code looks similar to assembly, it actually is a relatively high-level language that gets optimized and compiled by the graphics driver. VMWare's graphics acceleration lets you run 3D graphics in virtual machines, by passing along rendering info to the host GPU and then funneling the output back into the VM. Since the shader code gets compiled using the graphics driver of the host OS, this creates interesting opportunities for attacks.

New "Plundervolt" Intel CPU Vulnerability Exploits vCore to Fault SGX and Steal Protected Data

A group of cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new security vulnerability affecting Intel processors, which they've craftily named "Plundervolt," a portmanteau of the words "plunder" and "undervolt." Chronicled under CVE-2019-11157, it was first reported to Intel in June 2019 under its security bug-bounty programme, so it could secretly develop a mitigation. With the 6-month NDA lapsing, the researchers released their findings to the public. Plundervolt is described by researchers as a way to compromise SGX (software guard extensions) protected memory by undervolting the processor when executing protected computations, to a level where SGX memory-encryption no longer protects data. The researchers have also published proof-of-concept code.

Plundervolt is different from "Rowhammer," in that it flips bits inside the processor, before they're written to the memory, so SGX doesn't protect them. Rowhammer doesn't work with SGX-protected memory. Plundervolt requires root privileges as software that let you tweak vCore require ring-0 access. You don't need direct physical access to the target machine, as tweaking software can also be remotely run. Intel put out security advisory SA-00298 and is working with motherboard vendors and OEMs to release BIOS updates that pack a new microcode with a mitigation against this vulnerability. The research paper can be read here.

Intel CPUs Since Haswell Vulnerable to "Zombieload v2" Attacks, "Cascade Lake" Included

All Intel CPU microarchitectures since 2013 are vulnerable to a new class of "Zombieload," attacks, chronicled under "Zombieload v2" (CVE-2019-11135). This is the fifth kind of microarchitectural data sampling (MDS) vulnerability, besides the four already disclosed and patched against in Q2-2019. The vulnerability was kept secret by the people who discovered it, as Intel was yet to develop a mitigation against it. There is no silicon-level hardening against it, and Intel has released a firmware-level mitigation that will be distributed by motherboard manufacturers as BIOS updates, or perhaps even OS vendors. While Intel's latest enterprise and HEDT microarchitecture, "Cascade Lake" was thought to be immune to "Zombieload," it's being reported that "Zombieload v2" attacks can still compromise a "Cascade Lake" based server or HEDT that isn't patched.

"Zombieload v2" is an exploitation of the Asynchronous Abort operation of Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX), which occurs when malware creates read operation conflicts within the CPU. This reportedly leaks data about what else is being processed. "The main advantage of this approach is that it also works on machines with hardware fixes for Meltdown, which we verified on an i9-9900K and Xeon Gold 5218," reads the latest version of the Zombieload whitepaper that's been updated with "Zombieload v2" information. TSX is a requisite for "Zombieload v2," and all Intel microarchitectures since "Haswell" feature it. AMD processors are inherently immune to "Zombieload v2" as they lack TSX. Intel downplayed the severity or prevalence of "Zombieload v2," but dispatched microcode updates flagged "critical" nevertheless.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 441.12 WHQL Game Ready Drivers

NVIDIA today released GeForce Software version 441.12 WHQL. These drivers come game-ready for "Red Dead Redemption 2," which is going live tomorrow (November 5th). The drivers add or improve optimization for "Need for Speed Heat" and "Borderlands 3." The drivers fix a white-screen game crash associated with "Super Robot Wars V." With these drivers, NVIDIA is also addressing a security vulnerability, which isn't documented publicly yet, but will be released on Nov 6th, as "Security Bulletin 4907". Right now it is only briefly described as "Added security updates for driver components". Grab the drivers from the link below.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce Software 441.12 WHQL
The change-log follows.

New NetCAT Vulnerability Exploits DDIO on Intel Xeon Processors to Steal Data

DDIO, or Direct Data I/O, is an Intel-exclusive performance enhancement that allows NICs to directly access a processor's L3 cache, completely bypassing the a server's RAM, to increase NIC performance and lower latencies. Cybersecurity researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and ETH Zurich, in a research paper published on Tuesday, have discovered a critical vulnerability with DDIO that allows compromised servers in a network to steal data from every other machine on its local network. This include the ability to obtain keystrokes and other sensitive data flowing through the memory of vulnerable servers. This effect is compounded in data centers that have not just DDIO, but also RDMA (remote direct memory access) enabled, in which a single server can compromise an entire network. RDMA is a key ingredient in shoring up performance in HPCs and supercomputing environments. Intel in its initial response asked customers to disable DDIO and RDMA on machines with access to untrusted networks, while it works on patches.

The NetCAT vulnerability spells big trouble for web hosting providers. If a hacker leases a server in a data-center with RDMA and DDIO enabled, they can compromise other customers' servers and steal their data. "While NetCAT is powerful even with only minimal assumptions, we believe that we have merely scratched the surface of possibilities for network-based cache attacks, and we expect similar attacks based on NetCAT in the future," the paper reads. We hope that our efforts caution processor vendors against exposing microarchitectural elements to peripherals without a thorough security design to prevent abuse." The team also published a video briefing the nature of NetCAT. AMD EPYC processors don't support DDIO.
The video detailing NetCAT follows.

SWAPGS: Another Speculative Side Channel Vulnerability

Yet another CPU vulnerability was discovered today, called SWAPGS, revealed under the code CVE-2019-1125, as it is referred to in the industry. The vulnerability was discovered twelve months ago and got privately reported to Intel by a security researcher. It's supposedly present on both AMD and Intel CPUs, but was only proven to work on Intel platforms by Bitdefender security researchers. Red Hat issued a statement which states that both platforms are affected and that users should upgrade their systems as soon as possible. Microsoft already implemented a fix with its "Patch Tuesday" update for last month, so if you updated your OS recently, you are already protected against SWAPGS.

AMD issued as statement as well, in which it says: "AMD is aware of new research claiming new speculative execution attacks that may allow access to privileged kernel data. Based on external and internal analysis, AMD believes it is not vulnerable to the SWAPGS variant attacks because AMD products are designed not to speculate on the new GS value following a speculative SWAPGS. For the attack that is not a SWAPGS variant, the mitigation is to implement our existing recommendations for Spectre variant 1."

AMD Zen 2 has Hardware Mitigation for Spectre V4

AMD in its technical brief revealed that its Zen 2 microarchitecture has hardware mitigation against the Spectre V4 speculative store bypass vulnerability. The current generation "Zen" and "Zen+" microarchitectures have OS-level mitigation. A hardware mitigation typically has less of a performance overhead than a software mitigation deployed at the OS or firmware level. In addition, just like older generations of "Zen," the new "Zen 2" microarchitecture is inherently immune to Meltdown, Foreshadow, Spectre V3a, Lazy FPU, Spoiler, and the recently discovered MDS vulnerability. In comparison, the 9th generation Core "Coffee Lake Refresh" processors still rely on software or microcode-level mitigation for Spectre V4, Spectre V3a, MDS, and RIDL.

Intel Tried to Bribe Dutch University to Suppress Knowledge of MDS Vulnerability

Cybersecurity researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, also known as VU Amsterdam, allege that Intel tried to bribe them to suppress knowledge of the latest processor security vulnerability RIDL (rogue in-flight data load), which the company made public on May 14. Dutch publication Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant reports that Intel offered to pay the researchers a USD $40,000 "reward" to allegedly get them to downplay the severity of the vulnerability, and backed their offer with an additional $80,000. The team politely refused both offers.

Intel's security vulnerability bounty program is shrouded in CYA agreements designed to minimize Intel's losses from the discovery of a new vulnerability. Under its terms, once a discoverer accepts the bounty reward, they enter into a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with Intel, to not disclose their findings or communicate in the regard with any other person or entity than with certain authorized people at Intel. With public knowledge withheld, Intel can work on mitigation and patches against the vulnerability. Intel argues that information of vulnerabilities becoming public before it's had a chance to address them would give the bad guys time to design and spread malware that exploits the vulnerability. This is an argument the people at VU weren't willing to buy, and thus Intel is forced to disclose RIDL even as microcode updates, software updates, and patched hardware are only beginning to come out.

Update: (17/05): An Intel spokesperson commented on this story.

AMD Confirms its Processors are Unaffected by RIDL and Fallout Vulnerabilities

AMD in a statement confirmed that its processors are unaffected by the RIDL (Rogue In-Flight Data Load) and Fallout vulnerabilities. The company however worded its statement in CYA language, just to be safe. "...we believe our products are not susceptible to 'Fallout' or 'RIDL' because of the hardware protection checks in our architecture. We have not been able to demonstrate these exploits on AMD products and are unaware of others having done so," reads the AMD statement put out late Tuesday (14th May).

AMD came to these conclusions on the basis of its own testing and discussions with the researchers who discovered RIDL. It's important to note here, that the "Fallout" vulnerability AMD is referring to in this statement is the one which is part of four MDS vulnerabilities Intel disclosed yesterday, and not the identically named "Fallout" vulnerability discovered by CTS Labs in 2018, allegedly affecting secure memory management of AMD "Zen" processors.

Yet Another Speculative Malfunction: Intel Reveals New Side-Channel Attack, Advises Disabling Hyper-Threading Below 8th, 9th Gen CPUs

Ouch doesn't even begin to describe how much that headline hurt. As far as speculative execution goes, it's been well covered by now, but here's a refresher. Speculative execution essentially means that your CPU tries to think ahead of time on what data may or may not be needed, and processes it before it knows it's needed. The objective is to take advantage of concurrency in the CPU design, keeping processing units that would otherwise be left idle to process and deliver results on the off-chance that they are indeed required by the system: and when they are called for, the CPU saves time by not having to process them on the fly and already having them available.

The flaws have been announced by Intel in coordination with Austrian university TU Graz, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of Michigan, the University of Adelaide, KU Leuven in Belgium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Saarland University in Germany and security firms Cyberus, BitDefender, Qihoo360 and Oracle. While some of the parties involved have named the four identified flaws with names such as "ZombieLoad", "Fallout", and RIDL, or "Rogue In-Flight Data Load", Intel is using the PEGI-13 "Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)" name.

AMD CPUs Immune to SPOILER Vulnerability: Company Statement

SPOILER, short for Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks (not sure how that abbreviates), is the latest in the long line of security vulnerabilities preying on imperfections in speculative-execution capabilities of modern processors, which surfaced early March, and affects all Intel processors. The vulnerability exploits the speculative nature of loading data from main memory to a CPU register. Intel has yet to assign a CVE to SPOILER, and hasn't yet released its own documentation on possible mitigation.

Meanwhile, rival AMD put out a statement that its processors are inherently immune to SPOILER due to a fundamentally different memory management design. "We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts," the company writes in its statement.

Spoiler Alert: New Security Vulnerability Found Affecting Intel CPUs

A new security vulnerability has been found that only affects Intel CPUs - AMD users need not concern regarding this issue. Dubbed Spoiler, the newfound security vulnerability was discovered by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in partnership with the University of Lübeck, and affects all Intel CPUs since the introduction of their Core architecture. This vulnerability too affects Intel's speculative execution design, and according to the researchers, works independent of OS, virtual machine, or sandboxed environments.

As the researchers explain, Intel's speculative execution of certain memory workloads requires the full physical address bits for the information in memory to be known, which could allow for the full address to be available in user space - allowing for privilege escalation and other microarchitectural attacks. According to the researchers, a software solution to this problem is impossible, which means this is yet another silicon-level bug that needs to be addressed in future processor designs.

New "Thunderclap" Vulnerability Threatens to Infect Your PC Over Thunderbolt Peripherals

A new security vulnerability named "Thunderclap" severely compromises security of computers with USB type-C Thunderbolt ports, or machines with Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) ports. This would be pretty much every MacBook released in the past two years, Macs, and PCs with certain aftermarket Thunderbolt 3 adapters. Chronicled in a paper by the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge, Rice University and SRI International, is a method for Thunderbolt devices to bypass the host machine's IOMMU (I/O memory management unit), and read its main memory over DMA.

An IOMMU translates address-spaces between devices and main memory, and hence protects your memory's contents being read by just about any device. The group has detailed possible ways to mitigate this vulnerability, and forwarded these mitigations to Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. For now no public mitigation exists other than disabling the Thunderbolt controller of your machine in your motherboard's UEFI setup program.

"Logitech Options" Software Vulnerability Disclosed, Users Should Uninstall Until Fix is Available

(Update 1: It seems that Logitech has launched an updated version of their Options software with a fix for the vulnerabiity - but this only happened after the vulnerabiiity became public. You can go on over Logitech's own webpage to download the updated version, which includes the fix in its changelogs, from here. Safe browsing.)

Adding to the critical vulnerability galore that's been coming out of Google's Project Zero, a researcher has demonstrated how an inherent bug in the "Logitech Options" software renders users vulnerable when visiting web pages. Tavis Ormandy, with Google Project Zero, found that Logitech Options opens a local Websocket port that doesn't require authentication for external commands. Attackers could exploit this issue by sending simulated keystrokes from any website - and thus execute pretty much anything on affected systems.

Windows 10 1H-2019 Update to Reduce Performance Impact of Spectre V2 Mitigations

Microsoft is working to reduce the performance impact of "Spectre" V2 security vulnerability software mitigation with its next major update to Windows 10. The major update that's scheduled for the first half of 2019, will feature the "Retpoline" mitigation enabled on the operating system's kernel by default. Retpoline will be enabled in addition something Microsoft's OS kernel developer Mehmet Iyigun calls "import optimization." Together, the two reduce the impact of Spectre V2 software mitigation to "noise-level" (i.e. that which can be discounted for random variation, or minimal).

MIT Researches Find a New Way to Fix Spectre and Meltdown, Isolation Is Key

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities have been a real nightmare throughout this year. Those affected were quick (maybe too much) to mitigate the problems with different solutions, but months later even the most recent Intel chips aren't completely safe. Hardware fixes only work for certain Meltdown variants, while the rest are still mitigated with firmware and OS updates that have certain impact on performance.

Intel will have to redesign certain features on their future processors to finally forget Meltdown and Spectre, but meanwhile others have jumped to give some options. MIT researchers have developed a way to partition and isolate memory caches with 'protection domains'. Unlike Intel's Cache Allocation Technology (CAT), MIT's technology, called DAWG (Dynamically Allocated Way Guard) disallows hits across those protection domains. This is important, because attackers targeting this vulnerabilities take advantage of 'cache timing attacks' and can get access to sensible, private data.

Insidious New "NetSpectre" Vulnerability Can Be Exploited Over Network

The "Spectre" family of vulnerability, an exploitation of the speculative execution features of modern processors (mostly Intel), was scary enough. Up until now, running malware that implements Spectre needed one to run the program on a local machine. Running it remotely was limited to well-crafted JavaScript executed on the victim's machine, or cloud hosts made to process infected files. This is about to change. Security researchers from Graz University of Technology, including one of the discoverers of the "Meltdown" vulnerability, Daniel Gruss; have discovered NetSpectre, a fully network-based exploit that can let attackers read the memory of a remote machine without executing any program on that machine.

NetSpectre works by deriving bits and bytes from the memory based on measurements of the time the processor to succeed or recover from failure in speculative execution. As a processor is executing code, it speculates what the next instruction or data is, and stores their outcomes beforehand. A successful "guess" is rewarded with tangible performance benefits, while an unsuccessful guess is penalized with having to repeat the step. By measuring the precise time it takes for the processor to perform either (respond to success or failure in speculative execution), the contents of the memory can be inferred.

New "Spectre" Variant Hits Intel CPUs, Company Promises Quarterly Microcode Updates

A new variant of the "Spectre" CPU vulnerability was discovered affecting Intel processors, by security researchers Vladimir Kiriansky and Carl Waldspurger, who are eligible to bag a USD $100,000 bounty by Intel, inviting researchers to sniff out vulnerabilities from its processors. This discovery, chronicled under CVE-2018-3693, is among 12 new CVEs Intel will publish later this week. The company is also expected to announce quarterly CPU microcode updates to allay fears of its enterprise customers.

The new vulnerability, like most other "Spectre" variants, targets the speculative execution engine of the processor, in a bounds-check bypass store attack. A malicious program already running on the affected machine can alter function pointers and return addresses in the speculative execution engine, thereby redirecting the flow of data out of protected memory address-spaces, making it visible to malware. This data could be anything, including cryptographic keys, passwords, and other sensitive information, according to "The Register." Intel chronicled this vulnerability in section 2.2.1 of its revised speculative execution side-channel attacks whitepaper. You can also catch a more detailed whitepaper from the researchers themselves.

Intel Processors Hit by "Lazy FP State Restore" Vulnerability

Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability affecting all modern Intel Core and Xeon processors, which is an exploit of a performance optimization feature called "lazy FP state restore," which can be exploited to sniff out sensitive information, including cryptographic keys used to protect sensitive data. The flaw affects all x86 micro-architectures by Intel, "Sandy Bridge" and later.

The "lazy FP state restore" feature is a set of commands used to temporarily store or restore the FPU states of applications running "lazily" (as opposed to "eagerly"). Red Hat put out an advisory stating that numbers held in FPU registers could be used to access sensitive information about the activities of other applications, including encryption keys. Intel began working with popular OS vendors to quickly roll out software patches against the vulnerability.

Intel Platform Vulnerability Lets Malware Erase or Block UEFI Firmware Updates

A new Intel platform vulnerability emerged, chronicled by the company under CVE-2017-5703, dated April 3, which could let malware erase your motherboard UEFI BIOS, or render the EEPROM chip storing it "read-only" forever, preventing future BIOS updates, exploiting vulnerabilities in Intel's implementation of the SPI (serial peripheral interface) on its platforms. The vulnerability affects all Intel processors dating all the way back to 5th generation "Broadwell." The company quietly passed on fixes to its OEM partners to release as BIOS updates.

The vulnerability came to light in the public as Lenovo, Intel's largest OEM partner, deployed BIOS updates for its vulnerable products, while detailing it. Lenovo describes the vulnerability as "the configuration of the system firmware device (SPI flash) could allow an attacker to block BIOS/UEFI updates, or to selectively erase or corrupt portions of the firmware." It goes on to add that "this would most likely result in a visible malfunction, but could in rare circumstances result in arbitrary code execution." Intel said it discovered the vulnerability internally and hasn't noticed any exploits in the wild that take advantage of it. "Issue is root-caused, and the mitigation is known and available," the company said in a security advisory. "To Intel's knowledge, the issue has not been seen externally."
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