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.

Security Management //

Patch Management

3/5/2018
08:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Intel's SGX Vulnerable to Spectre-Like Flaw

Intel's SGX technology, which is used by several large cloud providers, is subject to its own Spectre-like vulnerability. However, this flaw seems much easier to fix.

Software Guide Extensions (SGX) is a method Intel introduced into its new newer chips to create a secure enclave area that developers believed would be able to isolate the program and its data from the environment that surrounds it.

The environment that it was protecting the program against included the operating systems and hypervisors, along with other system software.

In fact, Microsoft like the idea so much that it began supporting it in Azure -- the company's public cloud service. This was supposed to act as a barrier against any potentially malicious staff at the cloud installation. (See Cloud Security Is a Shared Responsibility .)

However, the Spectre class of predictive attacks have sort of made a mess of that idea.

Researchers from Ohio State published a paper last month showing how SGX can be breached in a side channel attack. They name the attack method SgxPectre, but have not released a catchy mascot logo to accompany it at present.

The researchers note that this naming is necessary to "highlight the important differences between them, including the threat model, the attack vectors, the techniques to win the race conditions, and the consequences of the attacks."

The report goes on to describe the method as one that "exploits the race condition between the injected, speculatively executed memory references, which lead to side-channel observable cache traces, and the latency of the branch resolution".

The method looks at hardware specifics as part of the attack.

The branch prediction units that are used in the enclave were found by the researchers not to be cleansed properly when the enclave was entered. This leads the researchers to assert that: "Code outside the targeted enclave (either running in the unprotected memory region or in another enclave) can manipulate the targets the branch prediction inside the targeted enclave."

There is also implicit caching going on.

This is caused by the speculatively executed instructions not rolling back after these kinds of instructions are discarded. So, that will mean the speculatively executed instructions -- even when they have never been committed to memory -- can lead to cache state changes which are observable by the adversary.

The researchers also found that the Intel Software Development Kits -- such as Rust and Graphene -- contain a code pattern that enables these kinds of attacks in the code that they produce.

The good news in all of this is that if the CPU has been patched with the newest microcode against Spectre Variant 2, the patch will protect against this attack as well. Use of the IBRIS instruction was said by the researchers to stop the kind of CPU behavior that exposes data. Developers may want to make sure that the CPU they are executing on -- say, in the cloud -- is at the correct version number for a patch, since microcode can be undone at run time. (See Intel Offering New Microcode to Fix Spectre & Meltdown.)

Intel noted that an upgrade to its SDK, scheduled for March 16, will change the patterns in the code it generates, which will eliminate that aspect to the problem.

Intel still has a load of fallout to deal with from Spectre and Meltdown, but the company may have dodged a huge bullet this time.

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 7/13/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
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-2020-14300
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The docker packages version docker-1.13.1-108.git4ef4b30.el7 as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 (https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHBA-2020:0053) included an incorrect version of runc that was missing multiple bug and security fixes. One of the fixes regressed in th...
CVE-2020-14298
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The version of docker as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 advisory included an incorrect version of runc missing the fix for CVE-2019-5736, which was previously fixed via RHSA-2019:0304. This issue could allow a malicious or compromised container to compromise the co...
CVE-2020-15050
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
An issue was discovered in the Video Extension in Suprema BioStar 2 before 2.8.2. Remote attackers can read arbitrary files from the server via Directory Traversal.
CVE-2020-10987
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The goform/setUsbUnload endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary system commands via the deviceName POST parameter.
CVE-2020-10988
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A hard-coded telnet credential in the tenda_login binary of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows unauthenticated remote attackers to start a telnetd service on the device.