Tag Archives: Intel

Intel to Add Hardware Security Mitigations to Processors

TL; DR:
Upcoming Intel processors will feature enhanced security against common malware attacks. You may wish to consider these processors if you are planning to replace computing hardware in the coming months.

For a positive change from reporting vulnerabilities in commonly used software and devices; I wanted to post about a new technology that Intel has developed for inclusion into its new processors (CPUs: defined). These CPUs codenamed “Tiger Lake” will be launched as Intel Core 11th generation and will be available to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) from the middle of 2020 with retail availability later in the year.

What are these mitigations and how do they integrate with existing software?
Intel’s CET: Control-flow Enforcement Technology aims to protect against common malware attacks. Control flow is the order in which different functions (defined: please see the Aside within that post) calls are made. Threat actors usually try to hijack the flow of CPU execution and divert it to an area of code (in memory) they wish to have the CPU process in order to carry out actions of their choice.

These mitigations should prove useful since they make it harder to exploit memory safety issues e.g. buffer overflows (defined) and use-after-free vulnerabilities (defined) (similar to what Microsoft Windows Defender Exploit Guard and Microsoft EMET before it has done). However, these mitigations are hardware rather than software based. Microsoft have added support for CET to Windows as Hardware-enforced Stack Protection for Windows. Sophos included details of how this mitigation will not affect the operation of existing software which does not leverage Intel’s CET.

The mitigations consist of Indirect Branch Tracking (IBT), and Shadow Stack (SS). IBT defends against call oriented programming (COP) (defined: please see page 7) and jump-oriented programming (JOP) (defined). Complementing this SS defends against Return Oriented Programming (ROP)(defined). Further details of these mitigations are available in this Sophos blog post with the definitive version from Intel available here.

Conclusion
To use these mitigations you will need an Intel CPU and Intel chipset from late 2020 (when they are available), a compatible operating system, for now only a preview version of Windows implements CET (expect Linux to follow very shortly) and compatible software (existing software will continue to work without any changes on CET capable hardware).

Thank you.

March 2020 Update Summary

====================
Update: 28th March 2020
====================
I have added the details of the security updates released by Apple on the 24th March near the end of this post. Thank you.

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Update: 25th March 2020
====================
Adobe has released a further update for Creative Cloud Desktop. I have added the details below to the Adobe updates list.

VMware have also released VMware Fusion 11.5.3 to more completely address a previously patched vulnerability. Details are below in the VMware updates list.

Thank you.

====================
Update: 23rd March 2020
====================

Since originally writing this post, Adobe published their security updates a week later than usual. Further details are listed below.

Thank you.

====================
Adobe
====================
Adobe Acrobat and Reader: 13x Priority 2 CVEs (defined)resolved (9x Critical and 4x Important severity)
Adobe Bridge: 2x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (2x Critical severity)
Adobe ColdFusion:  2x Priority 2 CVEs resolved (2x Critical severity)
Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop: 1x Priority 2 CVE resolved (1x Critical severity)
Adobe Experience Manager: 1x Priority 2 CVE resolved (1x Important severity)
Adobe Genuine Integrity Service: 1x Priority 3 CVE resolved (1x Important severity)
Adobe Photoshop: 21x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (15x Critical and 6x Important severity)

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Update: 15th March 2020:
====================
Security researcher Kevin Beaumont has provided further details of the critical SMBv3.1 vulnerability affecting Windows 10 Version 1903 and 1909. In summary the vulnerability is not trivial to exploit and the number of systems at the time of writing (13th March) vulnerability to the exploit had already dropped by 25%.

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Update: 12th March 2020:
====================
Microsoft have released an update to resolve the SMBv3 vulnerability now designated CVE-2020-0796, (EternalDarkness or SMBGhost) please apply it to any Windows 10 Server or Windows 10 workstation system running Windows 10 Version 1903 or 1909 as soon as possible. Please also make certain that such systems are not exposing port 445 to the internet (please seethe FAQ in their information on the relevant update).

An internet scan by security researchers of vulnerable estimates that there are 48,000 vulnerable Windows 10 systems. You can use the ollypwn scan (created by a Danish security researcher) can be used to check if a system is vulnerable.

I wish to add the following useful clarification (which was written before the Microsoft security update became available) from Richard Melick, senior technical product manager at Automox in relation to this SMBv3 vulnerability:

“Considering that SMBv3 is not as widely used as SMBv1, the potential immediate impact of this threat is most likely lower than past vulnerabilities. But that does not mean organizations should be disregarding any endpoint hardening that can happen now while Microsoft works on a patch…it’s better to respond today and disable SMBv3 and block TCP port 445. Respond now and vulnerabilities end today”.

To all of my readers, please stay safe during these challenging times. Thank you.

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Update: 11th March 2020
====================
As expected, yesterday Microsoft  released their scheduled updates to resolve 115 CVEs (defined). Unusually for this month, Adobe has not released any updates.

Microsoft’s monthly summary; lists Known Issues for 14 Microsoft products but all have workarounds or resolution steps listed just as the previous month’s did.

====================
A further useful source of update related information is the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

====================
As always for this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
For Windows or Windows Server system (Version 1903 and 1909) systems that uses SMBv3, please follow Microsoft’s guidance in the following security advisory while an update is not yet available. Please apply the update as soon as it is made available:

ADV200005 | Microsoft Guidance for Disabling SMBv3 Compression

Please also make certain that TCP port 445 is blocked at the enterprise perimeter firewall to prevent exploitation.

This vulnerability is “wormable” meaning that similar to the WannaCry malware and the BlueKeep vulnerability if exploited it may lead to a very large malware outbreak in a very short time.

====================

Windows LNK: CVE-2020-0684
Windows Media Foundation: CVE-2020-0801 , CVE-2020-0807 , CVE-2020-0809,  CVE-2020-0869
Microsoft Internet Explorer: CVE-2020-0824
Microsoft Browsers: CVE-2020-0768

Microsoft Scripting Engine: CVE-2020-0830 , CVE-2020-0847, CVE-2020-0833 , CVE-2020-0832, CVE-2020-0829 , CVE-2020-0813 , CVE-2020-0826, CVE-2020-0827 , CVE-2020-0825 , CVE-2020-0831, CVE-2020-0811, CVE-2020-0828, CVE-2020-0848, CVE-2020-0823, CVE-2020-0812

Microsoft GDI+: CVE-2020-0881, CVE-2020-0883
Microsoft Word: CVE-2020-0852
Microsoft Dynamics: CVE-2020-0905
Microsoft Edge: CVE-2020-0816

====================

Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As per standard best practice; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues.

I have also provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications and devices below.

To all of my readers, please stay safe during these challenging times. Thank you.

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Netgear
====================
On the 3rd of March, Netgear released 25 security advisories for its modem-router gateways, approximately 40 routers and a range extender. The vulnerability range up to critical in severity.

If you own a Netgear router, range extender or modem-router gateway, please use the guidance within this article (many thanks to Tom’s Guide for this advice and the appropriate how to check for updates steps) to locate your Netgear device model e.g. R6400 and to match it against the available security bulletins to check if your device requires a firmware (defined) update sometimes called a software update. Please install the update if one is available. The above linked to article also describes the varied methods to update your Netgear device.

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Intel Security Advisories
====================
Intel have released a series of security advisories this month. The advisories are prioritised below. If you use any of these products, software or devices, please update them as soon as possible especially in the case of the high severity advisories.

High
Intel Smart Sound Technology Advisory
BlueZ Advisory
Intel NUC Firmware Advisory

Medium
Intel MAX 10 FPGA Advisory
Intel Processors Load Value Injection Advisory
Snoop Assisted L1D Sampling Advisory
Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory Module Management Software Advisory
Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 Advisory
Intel Graphics Drivers Advisory

====================
Mozilla Firefox
====================
Yesterday, Mozilla released Firefox 74 and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) 68.6 to resolve the following vulnerabilities:

Firefox 74.0: Addresses 6x high severity CVEs, 6x medium severity CVEs and 1x low CVE

Firefox 68.6 ESR: Addresses 5x high severity CVEs and 3x medium severity CVEs

Firefox 74 also removes support TLS 1.0 (what is TLS, defined) and 1.1 as per Mozilla’s previous timelime, adds a Facebook Container add-in to limit how much the social tracks you across other sites and blocks the ability for other applications to install Firefox add-ons without your knowledge or consent. Further details of these features and other features added can be found within this article (my thanks to Lawrence Abrams of Bleepingcomputer.com for this information).

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Google Chrome
====================
Early last week, Google released Chrome version 80.0.3987.132 for Linux, Mac and Windows to resolve 4 security vulnerabilities with the most severe being of high severity.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 vertically stacked dots) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

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Apple Security Updates:
=======================
On the 24th of March Apple made available the following updates. Notable fixes affect the kernels of macOS, iOS and iPadOS, WebKit (the renderer of Safari), Bluetooth and Safari.

These updates bring Safari to version 13.1 and add updates to its Intelligence Tracking Prevention (ITP) privacy feature while also introducing a block on all 3rd party cookies (defined) by default.

Further details for these updates are as follows:
Apple iOS v13.4 and iPadOS 13.4 (resolves 35x CVEs (defined))
Apple tvOS 13.4: Resolves 20x CVEs.
Apple watchOS 6.2: Resolves 17x CVEs
Apple watchOS 5.3.6 (no CVEs resolved)
Apple iTunes version 12.10.5 for Windows: Resolves 13x CVEs
macOS Catalina 10.15.4, Security Update 2020-002 Mojave, Security Update 2020-002 High Sierra: Resolves 27x CVEs.
Safari 13.1: Resolves 11 CVEs
Apple iCloud for Windows 10.9.3: Resolves 13 CVEs
Apple iCloud for Windows 7.18: Resolves 13 CVEs
Xcode 11.4: Resolves 1 CVE (?: Apple’s post provides little details)

=======================

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

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OpenSSL
====================
On the 17th March the OpenSSL Foundation issued OpenSSL 1.1.1e (download/installation links included) which includes a low severity security fix.

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

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VMware
====================
VMware have so far released 2 security advisories this month to resolve vulnerabilities within the following products:

====================
Advisory 1: Severity: Critical:
VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
VMware Fusion Pro / Fusion (Fusion)
VMware Horizon Client for Windows
VMware Remote Console for Windows (VMRC for Windows)
====================
Advisory 2: Severity: Important:
VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
VMware Fusion Pro / Fusion (Fusion)
VMware Remote Console for Mac (VMRC for Mac)
VMware Horizon Client for Mac
VMware Horizon Client for Windows
====================

Advisory 2 (above) has been updated by VMware to state VMware Fusion has been updated to version 11.5.3 to more comprehensively resolve the vulnerability designated CVE-2020-3950. Please make certain if you use VMwre Fusion that it is the latest version available.

If you use any of the above products, please review the above advisories and install the applicable security updates as soon as possible.

February 2020 Update Summary

Today marks the release of this year’s second wave of scheduled updates from Adobe and Microsoft. 42 vulnerabilities were resolved by Adobe with Microsoft addressing 99 CVEs (defined).

Let’s start with Adobe’s patches first:
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Adobe
====================
Adobe Acrobat and Reader: 17x Priority 2 CVEs resolved (12x Critical, 3x Important, 2x Moderate severity)

Adobe Digital Editions:  2x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (1x Critical and 1x Important severity)

Adobe Experience Manager: 1x Priority 2 CVE resolved (1x Important severity)

Adobe Flash Player: 1x Priority 2 CVE resolved (1x Critical severity)

Adobe Framemaker: 21x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (21x Critical severity)

If you use the above Adobe products, please install these updates (especially in the case of the above critical vulnerabilities within Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat/Reader and Framemaker).
====================

Microsoft’s monthly summary; lists Known Issues for 13 Microsoft products but all have workarounds or resolution steps listed.

====================
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

====================
As always for this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
Microsoft Scripting Engine: CVE-2020-0710 , CVE-2020-0711 , CVE-2020-0712 , CVE-2020-0713 , CVE-2020-0767

Internet Explorer: CVE-2020-0674 (this was  the zero day (defined) vulnerability reported last month).

Microsoft Edge Chromium:  ADV200002

Windows Shell (LNK): CVE-2020-0729

Windows Remote Desktop Client: CVE-2020-0681 , CVE-2020-0734

Windows Hyper-V: CVE-2020-0662

Windows Media Foundation: CVE-2020-0738

Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As per standard best practice; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues.

I have also provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

====================
Mozilla Firefox
====================
Earlier this month Mozilla released Firefox 73 and Firefox ESR  (Extended Support Release) 68.5 to address the following vulnerabilities:

Firefox 73.0: Resolves 3x high severity CVEs and 3x moderate severity CVEs

Firefox ESR 68.5: Resolves 2x high severity CVEs and 3x moderate severity CVEs

Firefox 73 brings the following minor features listed below:

  1. A global zoom level configured from the settings menu
  2. Opt-in notification when the use of virtual reality is being requested
  3. A new DNS over HTTP (DoH) (defined) provider was added within Firefox. The new provider, NextDNS can be selected as follows: Select Options -> General -> Network Settings. Scroll down and place a tick/check in the ‘Enable DNS over HTTPs’ box and finally choose from NextDNS as a DoH provider.

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to benefit from the above changes.

====================
Google Chrome
====================
Google made available a security update in early February; resolving 56 vulnerabilities bringing Google Chrome to version 80. A further 2 updates on the 11th and 13th were also released but are not security updates.

Version 80 of Chrome also brings changes to how it handles cookies (defined). Specifically, restricting them to first party access by default and requiring website developers to specify within their code which cookies are allowed to work across websites. In addition, 3rd party cookies will then only be sent over HTTPS. This change was initially announced by Google in May 2019. As Google states “This change also has a significant security benefit for users, protecting cookies from cross-site injection and data disclosure attacks like Spectre and CSRF by default”. Further advice to developers is available in this video.

Separately in late February Google released Chrome version 80.0.3987.122 to address 3 security vulnerabilities, the most severe being a zero day (defined) vulnerability designated CVE-2020-6418 which is a type confusion vulnerability within Chrome’s JavaScript (defined) and Web Assembly (defined) engine known as V8.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 vertically stacked dots) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

====================
Realtek Audio/Sound Card Drivers
====================
In early February, the hardware manufacturer Realtek released an updated audio/sound card driver. This driver addressed a security vulnerability that requires an attacker to have already compromised your Windows system and to have obtained administrative privileges. More information on this vulnerability is available from the security researchers who responsibly disclosed (defined) it to Realtek. The vulnerability has been assigned CVE-2019-19705 by Mitre.

This vulnerability is a DLL search-order hijacking vulnerability (defined) which if exploited could allow an attacker to download and run a malicious executable file on your system. They also have the ability to achieve persistence on your system namely that any malware they install will remain on your system after it is shutdown or restarted.

If your system uses a Realtek audio device (use Windows Device Manager and expand the category named “Sound, video and game controllers” looking for a device with Realtek in its name), please refer to the manufacturer of your desktop, laptop or motherboard for a driver update. If no driver is available, please contact them to request that a driver be made available. As per Realtek’s security advisory, drivers with versions later than 1.0.0.8856 (legacy , non DCH (what is the difference between DCH and standard drivers?) are not vulnerable.

====================
Nvidia
====================
On the 28th of February Nvidia released security updates for its drivers which power their Geforce, Tesla and Quadro/NVS GPUs as well and updates for its vGPU software (for Linux, Windows, Citrix Hypervisor, VMware vSphere, Red Hat Enterprise Linux KVM, Nutanix AHV). Not all updates for the vGPU software are available at this time but are in progress and will be released over the coming weeks (timelines are provided within Nvidia’s security advisory).

As was the case with November’s security updates all of these vulnerabilities are local vulnerabilities rather than remote meaning that an attacker would first need to compromise your system before exploiting the vulnerabilities to elevate their privileges. The steps to install the drivers are located here. If you use the affected Nvidia graphics cards or software, please consider installing these updates.

====================
Intel Security Advisories
====================
Intel have released a series of security advisories this month. The advisories are prioritised below. If you use any of these products, software or devices, please update them as soon as possible especially in the case of the high severity advisories.

High
Intel CSME Advisory (Intel Management Engine (ME) Firmware)

Medium
Intel RWC3 Advisory
Intel RWC2 Advisory
Intel MPSS Advisory
Intel Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 Driver Advisory

Low
Intel SGX SDK Advisory

====================
VMware
====================
In the latter half of February, VMware released a critical security advisory to address vulnerabilities within the following product:

vRealize Operations for Horizon Adapter

If you use VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon Adapter, please install the applicable security updates (depending upon which version of this product you are using) as soon as possible.

====================
Wireshark
====================
In the final week of February, updates were released for Wireshark (I’ll detail only the 2 most recent versions here):

v3.2.2: Relating to 4 security advisories (relating to 4 CVEs)

v3.0.9: Relating to 3 security advisories (relating to 3 CVEs)

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v3.2.2 or v3.0.9). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

Thank you.

January 2020 Update Summary

====================
Update: 11th February 2020
====================
This Internet Explorer zero day (defined) vulnerability was resolved by the patch released by Microsoft today. If you use Internet Explorer (especially versions 8 or earlier), please install this update as soon as possible.

Thank you.

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Update: 27th January 2020
==============
Shortly after the release of Microsoft’s scheduled updates, on the 17th of January they issued a security advisory for a critical zero day (defined) vulnerability being exploited by attackers in targeted attacks.

An out of bound update has not been released by Microsoft since by default all support versions of Internet Explorer by default use Jscript9.dll rather than Jscript.dll However versions earlier then IE 9 face increased risk.

If you use Internet Explorer for day to day work or just general surfing, please consider implementing the workaround described within Microsoft’s security advisory. Please remember to remove the workaround prior to installing the relevant security update in February. Also, please note that this workaround is causing some printers not to print and the Microsoft Print To PDF function not to work. If this is the case, use another browser and disable the workaround or use the micropatch (discussed below).

An alternative which according to ghacks.net is free is to install the micro-patch for IE available from 0Patch. More information on the micropatch and how to install it is available in the previous link above. This micropatch does not come with side effects. A YouTube video of the micropatch in action is available from the following link:

https://youtu.be/ixpBN_a2cHQ

Thank you.

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Original Post
==============
Happy New Year to my dedicated readers!

Today Adobe and Microsoft released their first security updates of the year. Adobe resolved 9 vulnerabilities more formally known as CVEs (defined) with Microsoft addressing 50 vulnerabilities.

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Adobe
====================
Adobe Experience Manager: 4x Priority 2 CVEs resolved (3x Important severity, 1x Moderate severity)

Adobe Illustrator CC: 5x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (5x Critical severity)

If you use the above Adobe products, please install these updates (especially in the case of the above critical vulnerabilities within Illustrator CC).
====================

Inside Microsoft’s monthly summary; there are Known Issues for 9 Microsoft products but all have workarounds (some workarounds will be replaced by further updates).

====================
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
Windows CryptoAPI Spoofing Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0601 (disclosed by the NSA to Microsoft). Further information on this vulnerability is available from KrebsonSecurity, within this CERT advisory and the detailed NSA PDF.

Windows Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) Remote Code Execution Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0609

Windows Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) Remote Code Execution Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0610

Remote Desktop Client Remote Code Execution Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0611

.NET Framework Remote Code Execution Injection Vulnerability: CVE-2020 0605

.NET Framework Remote Code Execution Injection Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0606

.NET Framework Remote Code Execution Injection Vulnerability: CVE-2020-0646

Please install the remaining less severe updates at your earliest convenience.

====================
Microsoft Edge Chromium
====================
Tomorrow, 15th January will mark the release of a new version of Microsoft Edge powered by the Chromium rendering engine. This version will be available for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. This is especially relevant for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 since while Windows itself ends its support lifecycle today, Edge Chromium will continue to be supported for a further 18 months. This matches similar statements from Google regarding Chrome and separately Vivaldi.

For details of which versions of Windows 10 will receive the new Edge via Windows Update and which versions will need to download it separately, please refer to this link. I wish to extend my thanks to Softpedia and Bleepingcomputer.com for these really useful links.

If for any reason, you wish to use the previous version of Edge (which uses the legacy rendering engine, please see this link for details of how to run the older version alongside its modern equivalent).

As per standard best practice; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues.

I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

====================
Mozilla Firefox
====================
In early January Mozilla released new versions of Firefox to address the following vulnerabilities and to add new user privacy features:

Firefox 72.0: Resolves 5x high severity CVEs (defined), 5x moderate CVEs and 1x low CVE

Firefox ESR 68.4 (Extended Support Release): Resolves 4x high severity CVEs and 2x moderate CVEs

More recently Firefox 72.0.1 was released to address a single critical severity zero day (defined) vulnerability which was responsibly disclosed to Mozilla and fixed very quickly. Finally Firefox 72.0.2  was released on the 20th of January resolving inconsistent playback of full-screen HD videos among non-security other issues.

Highlights from version 72 of Firefox include:
In addition to picture in picture enabled by default for macOS and Linux, it blocks the use of fingerprinting by default (the collection of data from your system e.g. browser version, font size, screen resolution and other unique data. This protection is provided by Disconnect. There are multiple levels of fingerprinting protection provided with the standard level being enabled by default. The strict level however may lead to websites not functioning as expected. Further details are available here.

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to benefit from the above changes.

====================
Wireshark
====================
In mid-January the following Wireshark updates were released:

v3.2.1: Relating to 1 security advisory

v3.0.8: Relating to 1 security advisory

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v3.2.1 or v3.0.8). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

====================
Google Chrome
====================
Google made available two security updates during November; the first resolves 3 vulnerabilities while the second resolves 16 vulnerabilities. The second also provides mitigation for the vulnerability disclosed by the NSA to Microsoft more commonly known as the  Chain of Fools/CurveBall or CVE-2020-0601 This test page from SANS will then show your system is no longer vulnerable after applying the second update. Please still apply the update from Microsoft to provide the most protection, Google’s changes are a mitigation only.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 vertically stacked dots) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

====================
Intel Security Advisories
====================
Intel have released a series of security advisories this month. The advisories are prioritised below. If you use any of these products, software or devices, please update them as soon as possible especially in the case of the high severity advisories:

High
Intel VTune Amplifier for Windows Advisory

Medium
Intel Processors Data Leakage Advisory
Intel Processor Graphics Advisory
Intel RWC 3 for Windows Advisory
Intel Chipset Device Software Advisory
Intel SNMP Subagent Stand-Alone Advisory for Windows

Low
Intel Data Analytics Acceleration Library (DAAL)

====================
VMware
====================
VMware released 2 security advisories in January , the first is of moderate severity with the second being of important severity. The advisories relate to the following products:

Moderate Severity Advisory:

Workspace ONE SDK

Workspace ONE Boxer

Workspace ONE Content

Workspace ONE SDK Plugin for Apache Cordova

Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub

Workspace ONE Notebook

Workspace ONE People

Workspace ONE PIV-D

Workspace ONE Web

Workspace ONE SDK Plugin for Xamarin

Important Severity Advisory:
VMware Tools

If you use the above VMware products, please review the advisories and apply the necessary updates.

=======================
Oracle:
=======================
Oracle issued updates to resolve 334 vulnerabilities in January 2020. Further details and installation steps are available here. 12 vulnerabilities affect the Java runtime; all of which are remotely exploitable without an attacker needing to obtain a user’s username and password (their credentials).

If you use any of the Oracle products listed here, please install the appropriate security updates as soon as possible.

December 2019 Update Summary

As scheduled, on the 10th of December Adobe and Microsoft made available their monthly security updates.

Adobe resolved 25 CVEs this month with Microsoft separately patching 36 CVEs (defined).
====================
Adobe Brackets (an open source (the source code (human readable code) is free to view and edit by the wider IT community) application development editor focused on web development): 1x Priority 3 CVE resolved (1x Critical severity)

Adobe ColdFusion: 1x Priority 2 CVE resolved (1x Important severity)

Adobe Photoshop CC: 2x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (2x Critical severity)

Adobe Acrobat and Reader: 21x Priority 2 CVEs resolved (14x Critical severity and 7x Important severity)

If you use the above Adobe products, please install these updates (especially in the case of the above critical vulnerabilities in all but ColdFusion).
====================

Within Microsoft’s monthly summary; there are Known Issues for 17 Microsoft products but all have workarounds (some workarounds will be replaced by revised or further updates) or updates already available to resolve them.

====================
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
Microsoft Graphics Component (Win32k Graphics): CVE-2019-1468

Microsoft Windows Kernel (defined): CVE-2019-1458

Windows Hyper-V: CVE-2019-1471

Microsoft Visual Studio: CVE-2019-1349 , CVE-2019-1350 , CVE-2019-1352 , CVE-2019-1354 , CVE-2019-1387

Microsoft Guidance for cleaning up orphaned keys generated on vulnerable TPMs (defined) and used for Windows Hello for Business: Security Advisory

Please install the remaining less severe updates at your earliest convenience.

As per standard best practice; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues.

I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

====================
Mozilla Firefox
====================
Mozilla released new versions of Firefox to address the following vulnerabilities and to introduce new privacy features:

Firefox 71.0: Resolves 6x high severity CVEs (defined) and 5x moderate CVEs

Firefox ESR 68.3 (Extended Support Release): Resolves 4x high severity CVEs and 4x moderate CVEs

Highlights from version 71 of Firefox include:
An improved password manager which has the ability to recognise subdomains and to provide password breach notifications from Firefox Monitor for users with screen readers. Native MP3 decoding, kiosk mode and picture in picture support were also added.

The tracking protection enabled by default from Firefox 69 has been enhanced to add 3 different levels (similar to high, medium and custom) of protection and to provide a summary of the number of tracking preventative actions Firefox takes on your behalf. An in-depth description of this feature is available in this Softpedia article. My thanks as always to its author Bogdan Popa for this really well gathered information.

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to benefit from the above changes.

====================
Google Chrome
====================
Google made available two security updates during November; the first resolves 4 vulnerabilities while the second resolves  5 vulnerabilities.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 vertically stacked dots) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

=======================
AMD
=======================
In early December AMD issued a security advisory for its GPU and APU (defined) drivers (defined). It resolves 2 vulnerabilities CVE-2019-5049 and CVE-2019-5098. The steps to install the drivers on Windows are located here with a guide for Linux available here. Please make certain the drivers are version 20.1.1 or later (as per multiple recommendations from Talos, 1 , 2 and 3). As per those same recommendations if you use VMware Player or Workstation Pro, please make certain it is version 15.5.1 or later. If you use the affected AMD graphics cards, please consider updating your drivers to the most recent available.

====================
Nvidia
====================
In late December Nvidia released a security update for Nvidia Geforce Experience to resolve a vulnerability that may lead to a denial of service (defined) issue or an escalation of privilege (defined) issue. This vulnerability is a local vulnerability rather than remote meaning that an attacker would first need to compromise your system before exploiting this vulnerability to elevate their privileges. To resolve this local vulnerability within Geforce Experience  apply the necessary update by opening Geforce Experience which will automatically update it or the update can be obtained from here.

====================
Intel Security Advisories
====================
Intel have released a series of security advisories this month. The high priority advisories are the following:

High
Linux Administrative Tools for Intel Network Adapters Advisory

Intel NUC Firmware Advisory

The remaining advisories are of medium and low priority:

Medium
Intel Quartus Prime Pro Edition Advisory

Intel RST Advisory (see also my separate post on this vulnerability)

Control Center-I Advisory

Intel SCS Platform Discovery Utility Advisory

Unexpected Page Fault in Virtualized Environment Advisory

Intel FPGA SDK for OpenCL Advisory

Low
Intel Ethernet I218 Adapter Driver for Windows Advisory

Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Advisory

====================
VMware
====================
Similar to last month, VMware released 2 further security advisories, the first is of critical severity with the second being of moderate severity relating to the products:

Critical Severity Advisory:

VMware ESXi
VMware Horizon DaaS appliances

Moderate Severity Advisory:
VMware Workstation Pro / Player for Linux
VMware Horizon View Agent

If you use the above VMware products, please review the advisories and apply the necessary updates.

====================
OpenSSL
====================
On the 6th December; the OpenSSL Foundation issued 1 update for OpenSSL to address a single low severity security vulnerability as detailed in this security advisory. To resolve this issue please update your OpenSSL installations to 1.1.1e-dev or 1.0.2u (as appropriate). Please note that OpenSSL 1.0.2 will be unsupported and thus will not receive any security updates after 31st December 2019. Please upgrade to version 1.1.1 or later.

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

=======================
Apple Security Updates
=======================
Throughout December Apple has released security updates for the following products:

Apple iOS v12.4.4 and 13.3 / iPad OS 13.3: Resolves 1 CVE (defined) and 14 CVEs (respectively)

Apple Safari 13.0.4: Resolves 2 CVEs

Apple macOS Catalina and macOS High Sierra: Resolves 52 CVEs

Apple tvOS 13.3: Resolves 11 CVEs

Apple watchOS 5.3.4 and 6.1.1: Resolves 1 CVE and 10 CVEs (respectively)

Apple Xcode 11.3: Resolves 1 CVE

Apple iTunes 12.10.3 for Windows: Resolves 4 CVEs

Apple iCloud for Windows 7.16 (includes AAS 8.2): Resolves 4 CVEs

Apple iCloud for Windows 10.9: Resolves 4 CVEs

=======================

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

====================
Wireshark
====================
In early December the following Wireshark updates were released:

v3.0.7: 1 security advisory

v2.6.13: 1 security advisory

The above v3.0.7 version was later super seceded by v3.2 on the 18th of December. While it does not address security issues, it will be the version being updated going forward. Version 3.2 will also be the last version to support Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v3.0.7 or v2.6.13). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

November 2019 Update Sumamry

Apologies this notification is late due to my professional commitments.

As expected, on Tuesday 12th November Adobe and Microsoft made available their scheduled security updates. Adobe addressed 11 vulnerabilities with Microsoft also addressing 74 vulnerabilities more formally known as CVEs (defined).

====================
Adobe Animate CC: 1x Priority 3 CVE resolved (1x Important severity)

Adobe Bridge CC: 2x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (2x Important severity)

Adobe Illustrator CC:  3x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (1x Critical severity and 2x Important severity)

Adobe Media Encoder: 5x Priority 3 CVEs resolved (1x Critical severity and 4x Important severity)

If you use the above Adobe products, please install these updates (especially in the case of the above critical vulnerabilities).
====================

Within Microsoft’s monthly summary; there are Known Issues for 13 Microsoft products but all have workarounds or updates available to resolve  them.

====================
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================

Microsoft Graphics Component (Win32k Graphics): CVE-2019-1441

Microsoft Graphics Component (OpenType font Parsing): CVE-2019-1419

Microsoft Scripting Engine: CVE-2019-1429 , CVE-2019-1426 , CVE-2019-1427

Microsoft Exchange Server: CVE-2019-1373

Windows Media Player: CVE-2019-1430

Windows Hyper-V: CVE-2019-1398 , CVE-2019-0719 , CVE-2019-1397 , CVE-2019-0721 , CVE-2019-1389

STMicroelectronics TPM (defined) Security Advisory

Please install the remaining less severe updates at your earliest convenience.

As per standard best practice; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues.

I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

====================
Google Chrome
====================
Google made available two security updates during November; the first resolves 4 vulnerabilities while the second resolves  5 vulnerabilities.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 vertically stacked dots) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

====================
Intel Security Advisories:
====================
Intel have released a series of security advisories this month. The critical and high priority advisories are the following:

Critical
2019.2 IPU – Intel® CSME, Intel® SPS, Intel® TXE, Intel® AMT, Intel® PTT and Intel® DAL Advisory

High
2019.2 IPU – Intel® Graphics Driver for Windows* and Linux Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® SGX and TXT Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® Processor Security Advisory

The remaining advisories are of medium priority:
2019.2 IPU – Intel® Processor Machine Check Error Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® Processor Graphics Update Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® TXT Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® SGX with Intel® Processor Graphics Update Advisory

2019.2 IPU – Intel® Processor Graphics SMM Advisory

If you use any of the affected software or products, please update them as soon as possible especially in the case of the critical and high severity advisories.

====================
VMware
====================
VMware made available two security advisories, one of Important severity and the other of Moderate severity to addresses vulnerabilities within the following products:

Important Severity Advisory:
VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
VMware Fusion Pro / Fusion (Fusion)

Moderate Severity Advisory:
VMware ESXi
VMware Workstation
VMware Fusion

If you use the above VMware products, please review the advisories and apply the necessary updates.

====================
Nvidia
====================
In early November Nvidia made available Windows driver updates for their Geforce, Tesla and Quadro/NVS GPUs as well as their vGPU software (for Linux and Windows).  All vulnerabilities are local vulnerabilities rather than remote meaning that an attacker would first need to compromise your system before exploiting the Nvidia vulnerabilities to elevate their privileges. The steps to install the drivers are located here. If you use the affected Nvidia graphics cards or software, please consider updating your drivers to the most recent available.

Further updates were made available for the NVFlash tool (not applicable to end users) and Nvidia Geforce Experience. To resolve the local vulnerabilities within Geforce Experience  apply the necessary update by opening Geforce Experience which will automatically update it or the update can be obtained from here.

Responding to the recent ZombieLand 2 TSX Vulnerabilities

====================
[TL DR]
====================
These vulnerabilities can only be exploited by attackers who have already compromised a system. Practice standard security precautions and install updates from hardware vendors and for your software (links provided below) when they become available. Resolution for vendors that offer cloud computing will have a more involved decision making process to consider (see below).

Early last week, security researchers disclosed security researchers disclosed further vulnerabilities within Intel’s processors.

How severe are these vulnerabilities?
These vulnerabilities ca be classed as medium severity. An attacker must already have compromised your system in order to exploit these vulnerabilities. This most recent set of vulnerabilities collectively known as ZombieLoad 2 or Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) Asynchronous Abort affect Intel processors produced in the last approx. 2.5 years (August 2017 onwards).

For full technical details of these vulnerabilities, please see this page from Intel and this page from the security researchers. In summary these vulnerabilities according to the researchers allow “a malicious program to exploit internal CPU buffers to get hold of secrets currently processed by other running programs” leading to “these secrets such as browser history, website content, user keys, and passwords, or system-level secrets, such as disk encryption keys” being used by other running programs.

Of particular note are the performance implications for protecting virtual machines. If your organisation is running potentially untrusted code within virtual machines, protecting that environment will incur a performance penalty. You may need to carry out a risk assessment to determine if enabling these performance reducing mitigations outweigh the risk of putting your virtual machines at risk. Nested virtual machines will be most affected by the performance penalty.

How can I protect my organisation and myself from these vulnerabilities?
These most recent vulnerabilities can be mitigated by updating the firmware (defined) of your system. This is sometimes referred to as the UEFI / BIOS (defined) of your system.

They will be made available separately by the manufacturer of your motherboard of your system for servers, desktops and laptops or the motherboard (defined) manufacturer for any custom-built systems you may have. You will have to determine from the updates those vendors issue if they are available for the products that you own.

In addition, operating system vendors and virtualisation software vendors have made patches available (links provided below).

Thank you.

====================

HP Enterprise:
https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docLocale=en_US&docId=emr_na-hpesbhf03968en_us

Fedora (referring to the Xen virtual machine (see also below):
https://lists.fedoraproject.org/archives/list/package-announce@lists.fedoraproject.org/message/I5WWPW4BSZDDW7VHU427XTVXV7ROOFFW/

Red Hat:
https://access.redhat.com/articles/11258

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3838

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3839

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3840

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3841

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3842

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3843

https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2019:3844

SUSE:
https://www.suse.com/support/update/announcement/2019/suse-su-201914217-1/

https://www.suse.com/support/update/announcement/2019/suse-su-201914218-1/

Ubuntu:
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SecurityTeam/KnowledgeBase/TAA_MCEPSC_i915

Microsoft:
https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-US/security-guidance/advisory/CVE-2019-11135

Xen:
https://xenbits.xen.org/xsa/advisory-305.html

Performance impact to Xen:
https://xenbits.xen.org/xsa/advisory-297.html

VMware:
Security advisory:
https://www.vmware.com/security/advisories/VMSA-2019-0020.html

Further information:
https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/59139

VMware Performance Impact Statement addressing mitigations for Machine Check Exception on Page Size Change (MCEPSC) CVE-2018-12207:
https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/76050

Mitigating the Intel SWAPGS Vulnerability

====================
TL DR
This is medium severity information disclosure vulnerability. An attacker must already have compromised a system to exploit it. Patches from Red Hat, Google and Microsoft are available. Apple hardware does not appear to be affected.
====================

If we look back 2 weeks we saw the disclosure of a vulnerability relating to VideoLAN VLC being performed incorrectly. This week there is an example of how responsible disclosure should be carried out and demonstrates it can work very well.

Red Hat Linux, Google and Microsoft have all issued patches for a newly discovered variant of the original Spectre v1 vulnerability (initially disclosed in January 2018).

The performance impact of the updates is described in the Red Hat advisory in more detail:

====================
The fix for this CVE has shown to cause a minimal performance impact. The impact will be felt more in applications with high rates of user-kernel-user space transitions. For example, in system calls, NMIs, and kernel interrupts.

Early benchmarks for this mitigation show approximately 1% performance penalty:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=swapgs-spectre-impact&num=1
====================

How does this vulnerability work?
When building a memory address to access computer make use of segment registers (CS, DS, SS, ES, FS, GS). The FS and GS registers are used when the CPU (defined) is in 64-bit mode. The SWAPGS instruction is used on 64-bit entry into kernel code to swap the current user space value of GS with the value intended to be used during kernel operations. GS is used to access kernel data, but it does not validate the values it uses. There are checks during instruction execution to check if a swap to kernel mode is necessary. It is possible for the speculative execution process (attempting to look ahead to improve performance) to mis-judge if a swap is necessary  resulting in a small window of time where the wrong GS is used for memory access leading to disclosure of privileged information.

How can I protect my organisation and myself from this vulnerability?
Earlier this week Red Hat and Google released updates to resolve this vulnerability. Microsoft issued their update silently on 9th July:

Red Hat Linux
https://access.redhat.com/articles/4329821

https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git/commit/?id=18ec54fdd6d18d92025af097cd042a75cf0ea24c

Google Chrome OS
https://chromium-review.googlesource.com/c/chromiumos/third_party/kernel/+/1739575

Microsoft Windows
https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-US/security-guidance/advisory/CVE-2019-1125

Thank you.

Intel VISA Vulnerabilities Explained

In late March; security researchers published new research concerning a previously undocumented debugging feature of Intel motherboards and CPUs known as VISA (Visualization of Internal Signals Architecture).

TL DR: If your system is affected (please see the advisory); please ensure that you have applied the fixes from Intel’s advisory. Please only allow trusted individuals to physical access your systems e.g. servers and workstations: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/security-center/advisory/intel-sa-00086.html

What is this technology?
VISA (Visualization of Internal Signals Architecture) is a logic signal analyser within the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) of motherboards since the release of the 5-Series Chipsets (November 2008 onwards). This can be used for debugging purposes during manufacturing and is disabled by default.

This feature allows for the real-time monitoring of internal data and address lines as well as other buses within the motherboard.

What is the risk of having this technology within my motherboard?
While the researchers demonstrated 3 methods of exploiting these vulnerabilities:

  • Previous known high severity buffers overflows and privilege escalation flaws within the Intel Management Engine (ME) patched by Intel in 2017
  • Use of the Intel JTAG password
  • Fault injection technique into Intel Management Engine firmware read-only memory (ROM)

If you have already patched the first means of using the VISA technology an attacker would require physical access to your system in order to exploit the remaining 2 methods. Thus the residual risk would be low.

As per Microsoft’s Immutable Laws of Security (the official link seems to have been removed); if an attacker has physical access to a computer system; it can’t be considered your system anymore since the avenues of attack now open to them are large and little can be done to avoid this.

How can I can protect my organisation or system from mis-use of this debugging feature?
Check your systems using the downloadable tool from Intel to check if your system is vulnerable to the known issues from 2017.

If so, please contact the manufacturer of your system or motherboard to obtain the most appropriate firmware updates for your system. You can provide them a link to Intel’s security advisory for further details.

Please only allow authorised and trusted individuals physical access to your systems. Be security aware by knowing that attackers can socially engineer you into providing physical access to a system by impersonating your internal IT support or Security staff. Please check that such individuals work for or on behalf of your company before allowing them access.

Personally; my Asus ROG Rampage VI Apex system has received 3 Intel ME firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities first identified in 2017. Intel’s tool linked to above shows my system as not vulnerable to the issues listed within it’s advisory.

Thank you.

Responding to the Intel Spoiler Vulnerability

====================
Updated: 20th March 2019
====================
TL DR:
The Intel Spoiler vulnerability is not as bad as predicted. Software developers should continue to use safer code development practices.

====================
After the disclosure earlier this month of this vulnerability Intel have provided further information on how it affects their microprocessors. They have clarified that the Spoiler exploit by itself does not reveal secret data and is not a speculative execution side channel method:

Other good news is that existing mitigations such as KPTI (kernel page table isolation) reduce the risk of leaking data across privilege levels. They again confirmed that side channel safe software development practices such as “ensuring execution time and control flows are identical regardless of secret data” will mitigate classic side channel methods enabled by the Spoiler exploit. Furthermore, they confirmed memory modules which are already mitigated against Rowhammer attacks remain protected against the Spoiler exploit.

Lastly AMD provided formal confirmation that their microprocessors are not vulnerable after preliminary findings suggested they weren’t vulnerable. AMD’s statement is available from this link.

Thank you.

====================
Original Post:
====================
Earlier this month a new vulnerability was disclosed in a research paper titled “Spoiler: Speculative load hazards boost Rowhammer and cache attacks”.

TL DR: Mitigating this newly disclosed vulnerability is the job of software developers to work around using safer code development practices. Mitigating this issue in hardware will take longer since current measures cause too much of a performance penalty.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
Using this new method; attackers are likely to find existing cache and memory Rowhammer attacks easier to carry out. In addition, JavaScript (defined) attacks which can take long periods of time may be shortened to mere seconds. The paper contains a cache prime and probe technique to leak sensitive data using JavaScript.

This Spoiler vulnerability can be used by attackers (who MUST have already compromised your system) to extract sensitive information from the systems memory (RAM). An attack does not require elevated privileges.

What CPUs (microprocessors / computer chips) are affected?
This vulnerability affects Intel processors only; first generation Intel Core (from early 2006) and later are affected. ARM and AMD processors are not affected. Any system with an Intel Core processor is affected regardless of the operating they are using namely Linux, Unix, Apple macOS and Windows can be all affected.

How does this vulnerability achieve the above results?
The security researchers who authored the paper found a vulnerability in the memory order buffer that can be used to gradually reveal information about the mappings of physical memory to non-privileged software processes (in other words; applications). This technique also affects virtual machine (VM) and sandboxed (defined) environments.

The technique works by understanding the relationship between virtual and physical memory by timing the speculative load and store operations to these areas while looking out for discrepancies which disclose the memory layout to you. With this information an attacker knows where to focus their efforts.

Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem (memory disambiguation) is the root cause of the vulnerability. When a physical address conflict (the address/area is already in use) occurs, the algorithm leaks the access timings. The algorithm in the researcher’s words works as follows “Our algorithm, fills up the store buffer within the processors with addresses that have the same offset but they are in different virtual pages. Then, we issue a memory load that has the same offset similarly but from a different memory page and measure the time of the load. By iterating over a good number of virtual pages, the timing reveals information about the dependency resolution failures in multiple stages.”

How can this vulnerability be mitigated/patched?
This vulnerability lies within the memory disambiguation algorithm which won’t be trivial to resolve anytime soon. Since this vulnerability is not related to last years Spectre vulnerability; mitigations for that vulnerability don’t help here. Current Spoiler mitigations have too much of performance penalty. At this time, Intel has issued the following statement:

“Intel received notice of this research, and we expect that software can be protected against such issues by employing side channel safe development practices. This includes avoiding control flows that are dependent on the data of interest. We likewise expect that DRAM modules mitigated against Rowhammer style attacks remain protected. Protecting our customers and their data continues to be a critical priority for us and we appreciate the efforts of the security community for their ongoing research.”

The side channel safe development practices are linked to below:

Software Guidance for Security Advisories

Addressing Hardware Vulnerabilities

Thank you.