Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

ABTV

11/29/2017
01:05 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Intel Management Engine Has a Big Problem

Intel's Management Engine has a vulnerability that could allow an attacker to own your entire system. And they aren't planning to fix it.

Intel has finally 'fessed up that their Management Engine (ME) —- which is the computer that runs on top of your computer that uses Intel chips -— has a few vulnerabilities in it.

Nothing to be worried about, but they did find that attackers could gain unauthorized access to systems using the ME as well as the third-party secrets protected by the Management Engine (ME), Server Platform Service (SPS), or the Trusted Execution Engine (TXE). After that they could just light your code on fire using torches held aloft by sticks, just like in the movies.

Intel says that attackers can impersonate the ME/SPS/TXE, "thereby impacting local security feature attestation validity." Like running it into the ground and smashing it kind of impacting.

Not only that, attackers could "load and execute arbitrary code outside the visibility of the user and operating system and cause a system crash or system instability."

Wee doggies, that's some nasty impacting going on there. And it gets worse.

There's something called Active Management Technology (AMT) that runs on top of ME, which is already on top of what you think is your computer system. Some of the vulnerabilities target AMT. They can enable remote administration, remote display viewing/scraping, injecting human interface device (HID) events, and disabling the secure boot configuration. Some of what it can attack may not require the main operating system to be running or even the main system to be powered on. It just has to be plugged in to be exposed.

While there are no known, active or malicious exploits for these vulnerabilities at this time don't be lulled into a sense of ease. Yes, local system access is required to exploit most of them. But Intel admits that if the "management" Ethernet port is available, attackers may be able to combine older vulnerabilities along with the new weaknesses to access the ME/AMT components without having to be directly on the attacked systems.

There's a detection tool that can be run to see if the machine is at risk. (Apple's computers aren't at risk, btw.)

Intel's strategy for mitigation here is to let the manufacturers come up with patches for their own machines. And you, of course, have to find a way to manage updating and patching every doggone machine on your network. All of them.

The only other option is to buy all new machines. Which you hope have been factory fixed before you buy them.

This whole affair is majorly disruptive. Both time and money that could have been gainfully used elsewhere will end up being funneled to deal with it. Worse, there is a very low awareness of the scope of the problem among IT people.

But you know about it now. Start running.

Related posts:

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-21392
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Synapse is a Matrix reference homeserver written in python (pypi package matrix-synapse). Matrix is an ecosystem for open federated Instant Messaging and VoIP. In Synapse before version 1.28.0 requests to user provided domains were not restricted to external IP addresses when transitional IPv6 addre...
CVE-2021-21393
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Synapse is a Matrix reference homeserver written in python (pypi package matrix-synapse). Matrix is an ecosystem for open federated Instant Messaging and VoIP. In Synapse before version 1.28.0 Synapse is missing input validation of some parameters on the endpoints used to confirm third-party identif...
CVE-2021-29429
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
In Gradle before version 7.0, files created with open permissions in the system temporary directory can allow an attacker to access information downloaded by Gradle. Some builds could be vulnerable to a local information disclosure. Remote files accessed through TextResourceFactory are downloaded in...
CVE-2021-21394
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Synapse is a Matrix reference homeserver written in python (pypi package matrix-synapse). Matrix is an ecosystem for open federated Instant Messaging and VoIP. In Synapse before version 1.28.0 Synapse is missing input validation of some parameters on the endpoints used to confirm third-party identif...
CVE-2021-22497
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Advanced Authentication versions prior to 6.3 SP4 have a potential broken authentication due to improper session management issue.