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New Intel CPU Vulnerability: Spectre V3?

Cyber security + Global news Karan todayAugust 8, 2019 291

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Intel 10th Gen Processor

Intel 10th Gen Processor

Researchers from Bitdefender have reported that they have found a flaw in Intel CPUs that affects all modern Intel CPUs, potentially letting hackers access private information of the victims, both home and enterprise users.

We demonstrate a new type of side-channel attack based on speculative execution of instructions inside the OS kernel. This attack is capable of circumventing all existing protective measures, such as CPU microcode patches or kernel address space isolation (KVA shadowing/KPTI).

At the most fundamental level, these vulnerabilities rely on a feature common in modern CPUs called speculative execution. This feature allows the CPU to execute instructions before knowing whether their execution is required. For example, branch prediction can lead to speculative execution.

Bitdefender released a whitepaper on their website detailing the whole vulnerability and how it works. It talks about how the new vulnerability involves speculative execution to exploit it, though not much detail has been provided in the whitepaper. It is advisable to read up on older exploits like Meltdown and Spectre before exploring and reading the whitepaper.

The exploit works by bypassing all of the existing measures that have been developed to prevent existing side-channel attacks and it abuses a poorly documented behaviour of a system instruction known as SWAPGS. SWAPGS is a system instruction, present in kernel mode and is available in 64-bit mode, and is a vital component of the exploit.

Bitdefender has also dedicated a section of the whitepaper for the mitigation and fix of the exploit, that can be implemented to circumvent the possibility of a security issue.

There have been no official statement from Intel. Bitdefender had contacted Intel prior to releasing the whitepaper but here’s what they have to say:-

“Of course, the most complete solution to this problem is to fix the CPU. Releasing a patch for the CPU is not as simple as releasing one for software. This will probably not happen very soon – perhaps future CPUs will be designed with avoiding this flaw in-mind such-that they disallow speculative execution of the SWAPGS instruction. Microcode updates are excluded as well, as Intel clearly stated when we initially reported the vulnerability that they do not wish to address this problem in affected CPUs.”

The whitepaper can be downloaded here.

Written by: Karan

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OSINT Freak, Pursuing OSCP, Currently studying Computer Science Engineering.

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