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Wing Lee

Meltdown and Spectre CPU Vulnerabilities

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With last year's biggest revelations being the entirety of Vault 7 and the Equifax breach, we're starting off this year with a two exploits (though divided into three vulnerabilities) ranging about 20 years of CPUs.

 

Article Dump:

 

Basic ways to exploit these vulnerabilities:

  • With Spectre, an attacker can put malicious JS on a website, allowing them to read all browser memory including form data such as passwords, cookies, session tokens, and encryption keys.
    • Similar approach can be used with Java in a sandbox.
  • With Meltdown, an attacker can host software in some cloud environment to read memory form the host machine. Any data hosted on that server can then be read.

 

tl;dr:

  • Two major CPU vulns just went public
  • Exploitable CPUs allow attackers to read memory of processes currently
  • Meltdown is exploitable on Intel CPUs while Spectre is exploitable on Intel, AMD, and ARM CPUs
    • Meltdown is not yet verified to work on AMD or ARM CPUs
    • Spectre is likely to affect all modern multithreading CPUs
  • It is unclear if this exploit has ever been used publicly before now
  • Patches have been put out for the Linux kernel, Windows, OSX, and Android but only for Meltdown so far
    • LLVM have a work in progress patch for one of Spectre's two variants
      • Expect lots of recompiling soon
    • Patches are software to fix a hardware issue. This isn't going to be properly solved until a couple years down the line with a redesigned CPU generation.
  • Performance hits are expected, and further performance hits are expected when the Spectre patches roll out
    • Ballpark 5 to 30% performance decrease for Intel CPUs
      • This primarily affects system calls, not computation, meaning that things like rendering or gaming shouldn't be affected in any substantial way.
    • Expect the largest performance hits on VM software that use Hyper-V or docker containers
  • Likely not an NSA or CIA backdoor because it would still affect their own hardware as much as anyone else
  • As per usual, encrypt your data and use stuff like NoScript.
  • As long as you keep up to date with software patches, the average user shouldn't be alarmed.
    • BUT FUCKING UPDATE YOUR SHIT
Edited by Wing Lee

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22 minutes ago, Kraszu said:

Edit: also, INTEL SHAREHOLDERS ON SUICIDE WATCH

 

More like all VM software developers on suicide watch. Stock price changes are typical Wall Street investors not knowing jack shit and panicking for a profit, hence why AMD and Nvidia rises while INTC is falling. The only lasting impact from this will be the hardware engineers having to redesign an entire generation, security researchers and pen testers doing incidence response once this gets exploited in the wild over the next few weeks, and VM devs who literally just get massacred by performance hits.

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Can't imagine why the CEO of Intel sold all of his stock other than the minimum he is required to hold in his position a few months ago.

 

Here's to a knock at his door from the SEC. :biggrin:

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Intel's response was legitimately stupid. Given that only one of the vulnerabilities exclusively affects them, they could have avoided some huge backlash while people also hemmed and hawed over Spectre affecting everything. Instead, they decided to try and go in to pre-emptive damage control mode based on their last happy little accident, and fucked it all up.

 

As someone with AMD hardware who was subject to abuse by Intel fanboys, I am currently adequately smug.

 

 

edit: accidentally a word

 

Edited by Expresate

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7 hours ago, Expresate said:

Intel's response was legitimately stupid. Given that only one of the vulnerabilities exclusively affects them, they could have avoided some huge backlash while people also hemmed and hawed over Spectre affecting everything. Instead, they decided to try and go in to pre-emptive damage control mode based on their last happy little accident, and fucked it all up.

I don't know why are you suprised, that's basicaly what intel does.

 

just remember, these are both corporations. just because one is terrible, it does not automaticly make other one good

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I'm also hearing stuff about needing to update your motherboards, which is something I've never done and it doesn't look like my motherboard has an update in 2018. Are there going to be any issues there?

 

fug https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4073119/protect-against-speculative-execution-side-channel-vulnerabilities-in

yUKAC.png

no idea what to do here

Edited by hugthebed2

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With massive scale of the issue I'd expect there will be a patch for all generations affected, but it is up to Intel to tell mobo manufacturers what was wrong and how to fix it. This might take a while.

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2 hours ago, hugthebed2 said:

I'm also hearing stuff about needing to update your motherboards, which is something I've never done and it doesn't look like my motherboard has an update in 2018. Are there going to be any issues there?

 

If you don't have the latest patch from your mobo manufacturer, check their driver's page and look for any BIOS updates. I've seen most companies still release files that have to be updated from the BIOS via a flashing utility, but you might be able to upgrade from Windows or DOS as well. Your manufacturer should have exact instructions.

 

Whatever you do, absolutely make sure you have the right motherboard when you get the drivers.

 

The people that advise updating your motherboards are mainly referring to the fact that each manufacturer is responsible for patching their boards according to Intel's fixes. You might want to check your manufacturer's support page to see the affected boards. Keep in mind that a lot of these patches were already pushed out before public disclosure.

 

1 hour ago, Idiot Cube said:

I didn't know motherboards COULD be updated!

 

And the last one for mine was in 2014. Oh well.

 

Generally BIOS updates aren't all too important, especially since they run the risk of bricking your mobo if you do something like flash a BIOS image for another mobo or lose power while flashing. Most BIOS updates are to fix bugs in the BIOS or add more hardware support.

 

30 minutes ago, Medic said:

So, for the average moron like me, as long as I keep everything up to date (which I do), I should be alright?

 

Keep updating as much as possible. Microsoft has always had a draconian update system with Patch Tuesday, but you'll want to just keep being updated with the latest security patches.

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Man, I just love the doom and gloom perpetuated by tech media around Spectre and Meltdown. Yes, getting access to memory pages you shouldn't get access to it not good, but come on. It's not the end of the world.

 

Although, with Meltdown specifically, we have to get Intel to fix this since KPTI (or whatever is the equivalent for Windows peasants) is... well, it slows down context switches such as with SYSCALLs and such. Granted, if PCIDs were to be used you could just switch your TLB without doing a very slow TLB flush (since you know, TLB misses are like cache misses, a bad thing), since PCIDs allow you to retain multiple TLBs.

Edited by sham1

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16 minutes ago, sham1 said:

Although, with Meltdown specifically, we have to get Intel to fix this since KPTI (or whatever is the equivalent for Windows peasants) is... well, it slows down context switches such as with SYSCALLs and such. Granted, if PCIDs were to be used you could just switch your TLB without doing a very slow TLB flush (since you know, TLB misses are like cache misses, a bad thing), since PCIDs allow you to retain multiple TLBs.

same, tbh

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Microsoft is the next big shitshow of the Meltdown/Spectre damage control.

 

Microsoft has disabled Windows Updates for all machines without Meltdown/Spectre compliant anti-virus. This includes machines without AV, disabled AV, non-compliant AV, and AVs that are compliant but do not have the proper registry key added.

 

There were rumors about this beforehand, especially since Microsoft had a page on their official release talking specifically about people with AV. Completely fucking unacceptable solution.

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