Home Awesome New secret-spilling flaw affects almost every Intel chip since 2011

New secret-spilling flaw affects almost every Intel chip since 2011


Security researchers have found a new class of vulnerabilities in Intel chips which, if exploited, can be used to steal sensitive info directly from the processor .,

The bugs are reminiscent of Meltdown and Spectre, which exploited a weakness in speculative executing, an important part of how modern processors run. Speculative execution assists processors predict to a certain degree what an application or operating system might need next and in the near-future, constructing the app run more timely and efficient. The processor will execute its predictions if they’re needed, or discard them if they’re not.

Both Meltdown and Spectre leaked sensitive data stored briefly in the processor, including secrets — such as passwords, secret keys and account tokens, and private messages.

Now some of the same researchers are back with an entirely new round of data-leaking bugs.

“ZombieLoad,” as it’s called, is a side-channel attack targeting Intel chips, letting hackers to effectively exploit design flaws rather than injecting malicious code. Intel said ZombieLoad is made up of four bugs, which the researchers reported to the chip maker only a month ago.

Almost every computer with an Intel chips dating back to 2011 are affected by the vulnerabilities. AMD and ARM chips are not said to be vulnerable like earlier side-channel attacks.

ZombieLoad takes its name from a” zombie load ,” an amount of data that the processor can’t understand or properly process, forcing the processor to ask for help from the processor’s microcode to prevent a crash. Apps are usually only able to see their own data, but this bug permits that data to bleed across those boundary walls. ZombieLoad will leak any data currently loaded by the processor’s core, the researchers said. Intel said patches to the microcode will help clear the processor’s buffers, avoiding data regarding being read.

Practically, the researchers showed in a proof-of-concept video that the flaws could be exploited to see which websites a person is visiting in real-time, but could be easily repurposed to grab passwords or access tokens used to log into a victim’s online accounts.

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Like Meltdown and Spectre, it’s not just PCs and laptops affected by ZombieLoad — the cloud is also vulnerable. ZombieLoad can be triggered in virtual machines, which are meant to be isolated from other virtual systems and their host device.

Daniel Gruss, one of the researchers who discovered the latest round of chip flaws, said it works “just like” it PCs and can read data off the processor. That’s potentially a major problem in cloud environments where different customers’ virtual machines run on the same server hardware.

Although no assaults have been publicly reported, the researchers couldn’t rule them out nor would any attack necessarily leave a trace, they said.

What does this mean for the average user? There’s no need to panic, for one.

These are far from drive-by exploits where an attacker can take over your computer in an instant. Gruss said it was ” easier than Spectre” but” more difficult than Meltdown” to exploit — and both involved a specific set of skills and effort to use in an attack.

But if exploit code was compiled in an app or delivered as malware,” we can run an attack ,” he said.

There are far easier ways to hack into a computer and steal data. But the focus of the research into speculative execution and side channel attacks remained in its infancy. As more findings come to light, the data-stealing assaults have the potential to become easier to exploit and more streamlined.

But as with any vulnerability where patches are available, install them.

Intel has released microcode to patch vulnerable processors, including Intel Xeon, Intel Broadwell, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and Haswell chips, Intel Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake and Cascade Lake chips are affected, and all Atom and Knights processors.

But other tech giants, like customer PC and device manufacturers, are also issuing patches as a first line of defense against possible attacks.

Computer makers Apple and Microsoft and browser makers Google have released patches, with other companies expected to follow.

In a bellow with TechCrunch, Intel said the microcode updates, like previous patches, would have an impact on processor performance. An Intel spokesperson told TechCrunch that most patched customer devices could take a 3 percent performance make at worst, and as much as 9 percent in a datacenter environment. But, the spokesperson said, it was unlikely to be noticeable in most scenarious.

And either Intel nor Gruss and his squad have not released exploit code, so there’s no direct and immediate threat to the average user.

But with patches rolling out today, there’s no reason to pass on a chance to prevent such an attack in any eventuality.

Apple, Google and Microsoft release patches for ZombieLoad chip flaws

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Kernel panic! What are Meltdown and Spectre, the bugs affecting nearly every computer ? Intel announces hardware fixings for Spectre and Meltdown on upcoming chips Apple issues Meltdown fix for Macs running Sierra and El Capitan Google claims its Spectre and Meltdown mitigation results in no performance degradation Intel tried urgently to change the subject from Spectre and Meltdown at Ce Intel CEO: Meltdown and Spectre patches will come to 90%+ of chips in the next week

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