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Intel Chips Prone to Hacks – 64-bit OSs Deemed Vulnerable


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Intel Chips Prone to Hacks – 64-bit OSs Deemed Vulnerable

By: Liviu Arsene | comment : 7 | June 15, 2012 | Posted in: Industry News

Intel CPUs are prone to hacker attacks after a vulnerability in the way they implement the SYSRET instruction was discovered in their x86-64 extension.

The vulnerability could allow hackers to execute code with kernel privileges while in a non-administrator account, or to gain control of a host operating system after escaping a virtual machine. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a security advisory in which it thoroughly details the vulnerability.


“Some 64-bit operating systems and virtualization software running on Intel CPU hardware are vulnerable to a local privilege escalation attack. The vulnerability may be exploited for local privilege escalation or a guest-to-host virtual machine escape,” says the US-CERT.

Several x64-based operating systems like Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, 64-bit FreeBSD, 64-bit NetBSD, as well as systems that include the Xen hypervisor, are exposed to this vulnerability.

While 32-bit operating systems are safe, Intel CPUs that use the Intel 64 extension need the security patches released by Microsoft in their MS12-042 security bulletin.

The VMware virtualization software does not seem affected by the vulnerability as its hypervisor doesn’t use the SYSRET instruction, making the virtualization solution safe from attacks. AMD is also on the list of vendors not affected by the privileged escalation exposure issued by US-CERT. Because the SYSRET instruction is handled differently on AMD CPUs, the CVE-2012-0217 vulnerability does not apply to these chips.

AMD processors’ SYSRET behavior is such that a non-canonical address in RCX does not generate a #GP while in CPL0. We have verified this with our architecture team, with our design team, and have performed tests that verified this on silicon,said AMD. “Therefore, this privilege escalation exposure is not applicable to any AMD processor“.

SOURCE: http://www.hotforsecurity.com/blog/intel-chips-prone-to-hacks-64-bit-oss-deemed-vulnerable-2377.html


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  • Root Admin

The article posted by Steve has the link to the Microsoft Technet article as well.

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS12-042 - Important

Vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (2711167)

But it also says:

A security issue has been identified that could allow an authenticated local attacker to compromise your system and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system.

From that sentence I would have to believe that you would already need to be infected or someone have a physical logon and the tools, script, or know how to run this escalation attack. Though if someone has a physical local account there are probably many other tools that could be used to attack the system.

None the less certainly worth installing critical updates like this just in case.

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Speaking of patch tuesday....

I have two computers that updates were installed on automatically and now IE9 32 bit will not work on both computers. It loads but freezes and hangs there and the processor gets hammered. One is 32bit and the other is 64bit. On the 64bit one, I can use IE in 64bit mode and that works fine but the 32bit one freezes. I have tried resetting IE 32bit back to default settings and still does not work. One the 32bit pc I have to use another browser to get online.

Anyone else run into this?

EDIT: Nevermind found the solution to what was causing the lockup in IE, apperently its a bug with an update and DFX Audio Enhancer.


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