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New Class of CPU Flaws Affect Almost Every Intel Processor Since 2011

New Class of CPU Flaws Affect Almost Every Intel Processor Since 2011
May 14, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Academic researchers today disclosed details of the newest class of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities in Intel processors that impacts all modern chips, including the chips used in Apple devices. After the discovery of Spectre and Meltdown processor vulnerabilities earlier last year that put practically every computer in the world at risk, different classes of Spectre and Meltdown variations surfaced again and again. Now, a team of security researchers from multiple universities and security firms has discovered different but more dangerous speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs. The newly discovered flaws could allow attackers to directly steal user-level, as well as system-level secrets from CPU buffers, including user keys, passwords, and disk encryption keys. Speculative execution is a core component of modern processors design that speculatively executes instructions based on assumptions that are considered likely to be true.

NetSpectre — New Remote Spectre Attack Steals Data Over the Network

NetSpectre — New Remote Spectre Attack Steals Data Over the Network
July 27, 2018Mohit Kumar
A team of security researchers has discovered a new Spectre attack that can be launched over the network, unlike all other Spectre variants that require some form of local code execution on the target system. Dubbed " NetSpectre ," the new remote side-channel attack, which is related to Spectre variant 1, abuses speculative execution to perform bounds-check bypass and can be used to defeat address-space layout randomization on the remote system. If you're unaware, the original Spectre Variant 1 flaw (CVE-2017-5753), which was reported earlier this year along with another Spectre and Meltdown flaws , leverages speculative stores to create speculative buffer overflows in the CPU store cache. Speculative execution is a core component of modern processors design that speculatively executes instructions based on assumptions that are considered likely to be true. If the assumptions come out to be valid, the execution continues and is discarded if not. This issue could

Two New Spectre-Class CPU Flaws Discovered—Intel Pays $100K Bounty

Two New Spectre-Class CPU Flaws Discovered—Intel Pays $100K Bounty
July 11, 2018Mohit Kumar
Intel has paid out a $100,000 bug bounty for new processor vulnerabilities that are related to Spectre variant one ( CVE-2017-5753 ). The new Spectre-class variants are tracked as Spectre 1.1 (CVE-2018-3693) and Spectre 1.2, of which Spectre 1.1 described as a bounds-check bypass store attack has been considered as more dangerous. Earlier this year, Google Project Zero researchers disclosed details of Variants 1 and 2 (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715), known as Spectre, and Variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754), known as Meltdown. Spectre flaws take advantage of speculative execution, an optimization technique used by modern CPUs, to potentially expose sensitive data through a side channel by observing the system. Speculative execution is a core component of modern processors design that speculatively executes instructions based on assumptions that are considered likely to be true. If the assumptions come out to be valid, the execution continues, otherwise discarded. New Spectre-Cla

OpenBSD Disables Intel Hyper-Threading to Prevent Spectre-Class Attacks

OpenBSD Disables Intel Hyper-Threading to Prevent Spectre-Class Attacks
June 20, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Security-oriented BSD operating system OpenBSD has decided to disable support for Intel's hyper-threading performance-boosting feature, citing security concerns over Spectre-style timing attacks . Introduced in 2002, Hyper-threading is Intel's implementation of Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) that allows the operating system to use a virtual core for each physical core present in processors in order to improve performance. The Hyper-threading feature comes enabled on computers by default for performance boosting, but in a detailed post published Tuesday, OpenBSD maintainer Mark Kettenis said such processor implementations could lead to Spectre-style timing attacks. "SMT (Simultaneous multithreading) implementations typically share TLBs and L1 caches between threads," Kettenis wrote. "This can make cache timing attacks a lot easier, and we strongly suspect that this will make several Spectre-class bugs exploitable." In cryptography, side-channe

New Spectre (Variant 4) CPU Flaw Discovered—Intel, ARM, AMD Affected

New Spectre (Variant 4) CPU Flaw Discovered—Intel, ARM, AMD Affected
May 22, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers from Microsoft and Google have discovered a fourth variant of the data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre security flaws impacting modern CPUs in millions of computers, including those marketed by Apple. Variant 4 comes weeks after German computer magazine Heise reported about a set of eight Spectre-class vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs and a small number of ARM processors, which may also impact AMD processor architecture as well. Variants 1 and 2 (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715), known as Spectre, and Variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754), known as Meltdown, are three processor vulnerabilities disclosed by Google Project Zero researchers in January this year. Now, Microsoft and Google researchers have disclosed Variant 4 (CVE-2018-3639), dubbed Speculative Store Bypass , which is a similar Spectre variant that takes advantage of speculative execution that modern CPUs use to potentially expose sensitive data through a side channel. Speculative execution is a core component

8 New Spectre-Class Vulnerabilities (Spectre-NG) Found in Intel CPUs

8 New Spectre-Class Vulnerabilities (Spectre-NG) Found in Intel CPUs
May 05, 2018Mohit Kumar
A team of security researchers has reportedly discovered a total of eight new " Spectre-class " vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs, which also affect at least a small number of ARM processors and may impact AMD processor architecture as well. Dubbed Spectre-Next Generation , or Spectre-NG , the partial details of the vulnerabilities were first leaked to journalists at German computer magazine Heise, which claims that Intel has classified four of the new vulnerabilities as "high risk" and remaining four as "medium." The new CPU flaws reportedly originate from the same design issue that caused the original Spectre flaw , but the report claims one of the newly discovered flaws allows attackers with access to a virtual machine (VM) to easily target the host system, making it potentially more threatening than the original Spectre vulnerability. "Alternatively, it could attack the VMs of other customers running on the same server. Passwords and secret k

Intel Admits It Won't Be Possible to Fix Spectre (V2) Flaw in Some Processors

Intel Admits It Won't Be Possible to Fix Spectre (V2) Flaw in Some Processors
April 04, 2018Mohit Kumar
As speculated by the researcher who disclosed Meltdown and Spectre flaws in Intel processors, some of the Intel processors will not receive patches for the Spectre (variant 2) side-channel analysis attack In a recent microcode revision guidance ( PDF ), Intel admits that it would not be possible to address the Spectre design flaw in its specific old CPUs, because it requires changes to the processor architecture to mitigate the issue fully. The chip-maker has marked "Stopped" to the production status for a total 9 product families—Bloomfield, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown Xeon, Jasper Forest, Penryn, SoFIA 3GR, Wolfdale, and Yorkfield. These vulnerable chip families—which are mostly old that went on sale between 2007 and 2011—will no longer receive microcode updates, leaving more than 230 Intel processor models vulnerable to hackers that powers millions of computers and mobile devices. According to the revised guidance, "after a comprehensive investigatio

Intel Releases New Spectre Patch Update for Skylake Processors

Intel Releases New Spectre Patch Update for Skylake Processors
February 08, 2018Mohit Kumar
After leaving million of devices at risk of hacking and then rolling out broken patches, Intel has now released a new batch of security patches only for its Skylake processors to address one of the Spectre vulnerabilities (Variant 2). For those unaware, Spectre ( Variant 1, Variant 2 ) and Meltdown ( Variant 3 ) are security flaws disclosed by researchers earlier last month in processors from Intel, ARM, and AMD, leaving nearly every PC, server, and mobile phone on the planet vulnerable to data theft. Shortly after the researchers disclosed the Spectre and Meltdown exploits , Intel started releasing microcode patches for its systems running Broadwell, Haswell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake processors. However, later the chip maker rollbacked the firmware updates and had to tell users to stop using an earlier update due to users complaining of frequent reboots and other unpredictable system behavior after installing patches. Although it should be a bit quicker, Intel i

Meltdown/Specter-based Malware Coming Soon to Devices Near You, Are You Ready?

Meltdown/Specter-based Malware Coming Soon to Devices Near You, Are You Ready?
February 01, 2018Mohit Kumar
It has been few weeks since the details of the Spectre, and Meltdown processor vulnerabilities came out in public and researchers have discovered more than 130 malware samples trying to exploit these chip flaws. Spectre and Meltdown are security vulnerabilities disclosed by security researchers earlier this month in many processors from Intel, ARM and AMD used in modern PCs, servers and smartphones, among other devices. These CPU vulnerabilities could enable attackers to bypass memory isolation mechanisms and access everything, including memory allocated for the kernel containing sensitive data like passwords, encryption keys and other private information. Researchers from independent antivirus testing firm AV-TEST detected at least 139 malware samples, as of today, which are related to these CPU vulnerabilities, as shown in the growth graph. You can find SHA256 hashes for all malware samples here. Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm Fortinet also tracked and analyzed many m

Intel Warns Users Not to Install Its 'Faulty' Meltdown and Spectre Patches

Intel Warns Users Not to Install Its 'Faulty' Meltdown and Spectre Patches
January 23, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Don't install Intel's patches for Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities. Intel on Monday warned that you should stop deploying its current versions of Spectre/Meltdown patches , which Linux creator Linus Torvalds calls 'complete and utter garbage.' Spectre and Meltdown are security vulnerabilities disclosed by researchers earlier this month in many processors from Intel, ARM and AMD used in modern PCs, servers and smartphones (among other devices), which could allow attackers to steal your passwords, encryption keys and other private information. Since last week, users are reporting that they are facing issues like spontaneous reboots and other 'unpredictable' system behaviour on their affected computers after installing Spectre/Meltdown patch released by Intel. Keeping these problems in mind, Intel has advised OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors as well as end users to stop deploying the current versions of it

[Guide] How to Protect Your Devices Against Meltdown and Spectre Attacks

[Guide] How to Protect Your Devices Against Meltdown and Spectre Attacks
January 05, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Recently uncovered two huge processor vulnerabilities called Meltdown and Spectre have taken the whole world by storm, while vendors are rushing out to patch the vulnerabilities in its products. The issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all operating systems (Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, macOS, FreeBSD, and more), smartphones and other computing devices made in the past 20 years. What are Spectre and Meltdown? We have explained both , Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753, CVE-2017-5715), exploitation techniques in our previous article. In short, Spectre and Meltdown are the names of security vulnerabilities found in many processors from Intel, ARM and AMD that could allow attackers to steal your passwords, encryption keys and other private information. Both attacks abuse 'speculative execution' to access privileged memory—including those allocated for the kernel—from a low privileged user process like a malicious app running on a

Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws Affect Intel, ARM, AMD Processors

Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws Affect Intel, ARM, AMD Processors
January 04, 2018Mohit Kumar
Unlike the initial reports suggested about Intel chips being vulnerable to some severe ‘memory leaking’ flaws, full technical details about the vulnerabilities have now been emerged, which revealed that almost every modern processor since 1995 is vulnerable to the issues. Disclosed today by Google Project Zero , the vulnerabilities potentially impact all major CPUs, including those from AMD, ARM, and Intel—threatening almost all PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, regardless of manufacturer or operating system. These hardware vulnerabilities have been categorized into two attacks , named Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715), which could allow attackers to steal sensitive data which is currently processed on the computer. Both attacks take advantage of a feature in chips known as "speculative execution," a technique used by most modern CPUs to optimize performance. "In order to improve performance, many CPUs may choose t
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