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.

Endpoint Security //

Windows

1/16/2018
09:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

After Spectre & Meltdown, Intel Faces an 'Evil Maid' Problem

In a rough start to 2018, Intel is dealing with the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in its CPUs, and now the chip maker is confronting reports of a flaw that leaves chips open to an 'Evil Maid' attack.

It's only a few weeks old, but 2018 has not been a good year for Intel.

Since the start of the year, most tech headlines have focused on the major problems and security flaws that have been found in Intel's CPU designs -- now referred to as Spectre and Meltdown -- as well as reports of security holes in the Advanced Management Technology (AMT) program that runs the bits through the processors. (See Security Warning: Intel Inside.)

Now, add one more problem to the list.

Harry Sintonen, a senior researcher at F-Secure Corp. , announced last week that he had found a way for someone who gains physical access for under 60 seconds to a computer that uses an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) CPU to be able to poison it so that it could be hijacked remotely if the attacker is on the same network.

This kind of attack is called an "Evil Maid" -- a machine left open for a moment public space could be compromised by a threat actor. This type of attack takes its name from the scenario of an evil maid who carries out the attack on a computer that is left in a hotel room.

The attack is simple and deadly.

Booting up the device and pressing CTRL-P during the process starts it. This causes the attacker to log in to the Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx), which has credentials that are unrelated to any other system passwords, TPM pin or Bitlocker settings. The usual MEBx default password "admin" will gain access to the AMT on most machines.

The attacker could then reset the default password, enabling remote access and setting AMT's user opt-in to "None."

Boom -- a compromised machine. All the other passwords and logins in effect can be bypassed remotely if the attacker is on the same network segment. If the attackers get AMT to log into their own server, they don't even have to be on the same network segment to control the machine.

So, what can you do about this? One answer is to just throw out AMT but an IT department may not be able to do this remotely.

F-Secure seems to understand that, and offers the following advice:

Our recommendation is to query the amount of affected assets remotely [to find the machines with a non-"admin" MEBx password], and try to narrow the list down to a more manageable number. Organizations with Microsoft environments and domain connected devices can also take advantage of the System Center Configuration Manager to provision AMT.

There is no CVE number for this problem, nor is there any announcement scheduled from Intel. Organizations are on their own, here.

While Intel has written guides to dealing with AMT, the company may not have considered how the real world or evil maids can affect security. Leaving a laptop unsecured in a public place is never a good idea, in any case.

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
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/2/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9498
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
Apache Guacamole 1.1.0 and older may mishandle pointers involved inprocessing data received via RDP static virtual channels. If a userconnects to a malicious or compromised RDP server, a series ofspecially-crafted PDUs could result in memory corruption, possiblyallowing arbitrary code to be executed...
CVE-2020-3282
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management Edition, Cisco Unified Communications Manager IM & Presence Service, and Cisco Unity Connection could allow an unauthenticated, remote attack...
CVE-2020-5909
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, when users run the command displayed in NGINX Controller user interface (UI) to fetch the agent installer, the server TLS certificate is not verified.
CVE-2020-5910
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the Neural Autonomic Transport System (NATS) messaging services in use by the NGINX Controller do not require any form of authentication, so any successful connection would be authorized.
CVE-2020-5911
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the NGINX Controller installer starts the download of Kubernetes packages from an HTTP URL On Debian/Ubuntu system.