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HomeBig DataNew Spectre-based Vulnerability Impacts Intel, AMD, and Arm CPUs

New Spectre-based Vulnerability Impacts Intel, AMD, and Arm CPUs

Dec 09, 2023NewsroomCyber Risk / {Hardware} Safety

CPU Vulnerability

Researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have disclosed a brand new side-channel assault known as SLAM that may very well be exploited to leak delicate data from kernel reminiscence on present and upcoming CPUs from Intel, AMD, and Arm.

The assault is an end-to-end exploit for Spectre primarily based on a brand new function in Intel CPUs known as Linear Handle Masking (LAM) in addition to its analogous counterparts from AMD (known as Higher Handle Ignore or UAI) and Arm (known as High Byte Ignore or TBI).

“SLAM exploits unmasked devices to let a userland course of leak arbitrary ASCII kernel knowledge,” VUSec researchers mentioned, including it may very well be leveraged to leak the foundation password hash inside minutes from kernel reminiscence.


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Whereas LAM is introduced as a safety function, the research discovered that it satirically degrades safety and “dramatically” will increase the Spectre assault floor, leading to a transient execution assault, which exploits speculative execution to extract delicate knowledge by way of a cache covert channel.

“A transient execution assault exploits the microarchitectural unwanted side effects of transient directions, thus permitting a malicious adversary to entry data that may ordinarily be prohibited by architectural entry management mechanisms,” Intel says in its terminology documentation.

Described as the primary transient execution assault concentrating on future CPUs, SLAM takes benefit of a brand new covert channel primarily based on non-canonical tackle translation that facilitates the sensible exploitation of generic Spectre devices to leak beneficial data. It impacts the next CPUs –

  • Present AMD CPUs susceptible to CVE-2020-12965
  • Future Intel CPUs supporting LAM (each 4- and 5-level paging)
  • Future AMD CPUs supporting UAI and 5-level paging
  • Future Arm CPUs supporting TBI and 5-level paging

“Arm programs already mitigate in opposition to Spectre v2 and BHB, and it’s thought-about the software program’s accountability to guard itself in opposition to Spectre v1,” Arm mentioned in an advisory. “The described strategies solely improve the assault floor of present vulnerabilities reminiscent of Spectre v2 or BHB by augmenting the variety of exploitable devices.”


AMD has additionally pointed to present Spectre v2 mitigations to deal with the SLAM exploit. Intel, then again, intends to offer software program steering previous to the longer term launch of Intel processors that help LAM. Within the interim, Linux maintainers have developed patches to disable LAM by default.

The findings come practically two months after VUSec make clear Quarantine, a software-only strategy to mitigate transient execution assaults and obtain bodily area isolation by partitioning the Final stage cache (LLC) to offer each safety area unique entry to a unique a part of the LLC with the aim of eliminating LLC covert channels.

“Quarantine’s bodily area isolation isolates totally different safety domains on separate cores to stop them from sharing corelocal microarchitectural sources,” the researchers mentioned. “Furthermore, it unshares the LLC, partitioning it among the many safety domains.”

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