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SWAPGS Attack — New Speculative Execution Flaw Affects All Modern Intel CPUs

SWAPGS Attack — New Speculative Execution Flaw Affects All Modern Intel CPUs

August 06, 2019Mohit Kumar
A new variant of the Spectre (Variant 1)  side-channel vulnerability has been discovered that affects all  modern Intel CPUs , and probably some AMD processors as well, which leverage speculative execution for high performance, Microsoft and Red Hat warned. Identified as CVE-2019-1125, the vulnerability could allow unprivileged local attackers to access sensitive information stored in the operating system privileged kernel memory, including passwords, tokens, and encryption keys, that would otherwise be inaccessible. Speculative execution is a core component of modern microprocessor 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. Such speculative executions also have side effects that are not restored when the CPU state is unwound, leading to information disclosure, which can then be accessed using side-channel attacks . Microsof
New Intel CPU Flaw Exploits Hyper-Threading to Steal Encrypted Data

New Intel CPU Flaw Exploits Hyper-Threading to Steal Encrypted Data

November 04, 2018Swati Khandelwal
A team of security researchers has discovered another serious side-channel vulnerability in Intel CPUs that could allow an attacker to sniff out sensitive protected data, like passwords and cryptographic keys, from other processes running in the same CPU core with simultaneous multi-threading feature enabled. The vulnerability, codenamed PortSmash (CVE-2018-5407), has joined the list of other dangerous side-channel vulnerabilities discovered in the past year, including Meltdown and Spectre , TLBleed , and Foreshadow . Discovered by a team of security researchers from the Tampere University of Technology in Finland and Technical University of Havana, Cuba, the new side-channel vulnerability resides in Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, the company's implementation of Simultaneous MultiThreading (SMT). Simultaneous MultiThreading is a performance feature that works by splitting up each physical core of a processor into virtual cores, known as threads, allowing each core to
Foreshadow Attacks — 3 New Intel CPU Side-Channel Flaws Discovered

Foreshadow Attacks — 3 New Intel CPU Side-Channel Flaws Discovered

August 15, 2018Swati Khandelwal
2018 has been quite a tough year for Intel. While the chip-maker giant is still dealing with Meltdown and Spectre processor vulnerabilities, yet another major speculative execution flaw has been revealed in Intel's Core and Xeon lines of processors that may leave users vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Dubbed Foreshadow , alternatively called L1 Terminal Fault or L1TF, the new attacks include three new speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities affecting Intel processors. The Foreshadow attacks could allow a hacker or malicious application to gain access to the sensitive data stored in a computer's memory or third-party clouds, including files, encryption keys, pictures, or passwords. The three Foreshadow vulnerabilities have been categorized into two variants: 1.) Foreshadow Foreshadow ( PDF ) targets a new technology originally been designed to protect select code and users' data from disclosure or modification, even if the entire system falls under a
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
New 'Lazy FP State Restore' Vulnerability Found in All Modern Intel CPUs

New 'Lazy FP State Restore' Vulnerability Found in All Modern Intel CPUs

June 14, 2018Mohit Kumar
Hell Yeah! Another security vulnerability has been discovered in Intel chips that affects the processor's speculative execution technology—like Specter and Meltdown —and could potentially be exploited to access sensitive information, including encryption related data. Dubbed Lazy FP State Restore , the vulnerability (CVE-2018-3665) within Intel Core and Xeon processors has just been confirmed by Intel, and vendors are now rushing to roll out security updates in order to fix the flaw and keep their customers protected. The company has not yet released technical details about the vulnerability, but since the vulnerability resides in the CPU, the flaw affects all devices running Intel Core-based microprocessors regardless of the installed operating systems, except some modern versions of Windows and Linux distributions. As the name suggests, the flaw leverages a system performance optimization feature, called Lazy FP state restore, embedded in modern processors, which is resp
Microsoft's Meltdown Patch Made Windows 7 PCs More Insecure

Microsoft's Meltdown Patch Made Windows 7 PCs More Insecure

March 29, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Meltdown CPU vulnerability was bad, and Microsoft somehow made the flaw even worse on its Windows 7, allowing any unprivileged, user-level application to read content from and even write data to the operating system's kernel memory. For those unaware, Spectre and Meltdown were security flaws disclosed by researchers earlier this year 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 , software vendors, including Microsoft, started releasing patches for their systems running a vulnerable version of processors. However, an independent Swedish security researcher Ulf Frisk found that Microsoft's security fixes to Windows 7 PCs for the Meltdown flaw—which could allow attackers to read kernel memory at a speed of 120 KBps—is now allowing attackers to read the same kernel memory at a speed of Gbps, making the issue even wo
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
New Intel AMT Security Issue Lets Hackers Gain Full Control of Laptops in 30 Seconds

New Intel AMT Security Issue Lets Hackers Gain Full Control of Laptops in 30 Seconds

January 12, 2018Swati Khandelwal
It's been a terrible new-year-starting for Intel. Researchers warn of a new attack which can be carried out in less than 30 seconds and potentially affects millions of laptops globally. As Intel was rushing to roll out patches for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities , security researchers have discovered a new critical security flaw in Intel hardware that could allow hackers to access corporate laptops remotely. Finnish cyber security firm F-Secure reported unsafe and misleading default behaviour within Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) that could allow an attacker to bypass login processes and take complete control over a user's device in less than 30 seconds. AMT is a feature that comes with Intel-based chipsets to enhance the ability of IT administrators and managed service providers for better controlling their device fleets, allowing them to remotely manage and repair PCs, workstations, and servers in their organisation. The bug allows anyone with phy
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