Posted on November 22, 2017 at 7:39 PM
A new flaw discovered in Intel chips could make millions of devices vulnerable to malicious attacks.
Reuters recently reported that a new flaw that has been discovered in Intel’s Management Engine, could leave millions of IoT devices vulnerable to malicious attacks.
The flaw was recently discovered by security researchers after they encountered several serious bugs in Intel’s feature called Management Engine (ME). Once exploited, the bugs could enable attacks to infiltrate and hijack millions of IoT devices, including PCs. Since the bugs’ discovery, Intel has alerted users as to the vulnerabilities and their implications found on ME as well as its hardware authentication service Trusted Execution Engine.
Currently, the bugs are present in processors from the 6th to 8th generation of Intel Core processors. However, the bugs could also pose a threat to Xeon, Celeron, and Atom processors.
According to Intel, the vulnerabilities were discovered during a comprehensive security audit conducted by an external cybersecurity researching team. Following the discovery, the company has made a Detection Tool available for both Windows and Linux users to check their device’s vulnerability.
This critical security flaw was first detected by the Positive Technologies researchers Maxim Goryachy and Mark Ermolov. According to the researchers, the vulnerability could have enabled attackers to run malicious code without the user’s knowledge as well allow attackers access to private and sensitive information. If exploited, this vulnerability could have exposed millions of devices to attack.
The researchers are expected to provide more details regarding the security flaw at the upcoming annual Black Hat conference, which is scheduled to take place in December.
According to Goryachy, the researchers felt the security audit to be of critical importance, as Intel is present in millions of IoT devices worldwide. Goryachy stated that Intel is more used than OS, and considering the processors’ vast amount of data gathered from its users, an attacker could have exploited the bug not only to gather information but also to use the information to create malware that can bypass the system’s anti-virus and anti-malware protection software.
Once exploited, the flaw is likely to induce system instability and possible crashes.
According to the cybersecurity firm Rapid7’s, chief data scientist, Bob Rudis, these sort of flaws could potentially allow hackers to evade any system’s security features. Rudis emphasized that a flaw of this scope would give complete control of the device to the hacker.
Since most Intel chips have the ME feature, this flaw could affect millions of device across the world.
Intel recently addressed this issue in a statement by confirming that they are working towards releasing updates which would patch the security flaws. The company continued to urge all affected users to check regularly for the moment an update becomes available for their specific device.
However, this doesn’t completely address the issue, as the hardware manufacturers will be required to release patches of their own as well to fully fix the security flaw. This means that there will be no one solution for all devices and that devices cannot be fixed all at once.
In addition to Intel’s warning, the US’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also released a statement, which brought the security flaw to the attention of American citizens, and urged to install security updates for their devices as soon as it becomes available.
According to Intel, affected processors include:
- 6th, 7th & 8th Generation Intel Core Processor Family
- Intel Xeon Processor E3-1200 v5 & v6 Product Family
- Intel Xeon Processor Scalable Family
- Intel Xeon Processor W Family
- Intel Atom C3000 Processor Family
- Apollo Lake Intel Atom Processor E3900 series
- Apollo Lake Intel Pentium
- Celeron N and J series Processors
Since Intel’s statement, the hardware manufacturer, Dell, released a list which includes over 100 affected Dell systems, which included Latitude, Inspiron, OptiPlex, Alienware, Vostro, and Precision devices. Dell has yet to confirm when updates for their affected devices will be available.
HP has already made updates available on its website, while Lenovo confirmed that patches will be available to users by 23 November.