A new security flaw has been detected by German researchers in
relation to Intel. This comes on the back of earlier concerns from
January and March 2018. The flaw means that passwords can potentially
several decades, malicious software has been able to abstract data
from the inner workings of operating systems and hardware. Although
significant research resources have been spent on assuring software
security, vulnerabilities remain.
in 2018, research indicated a security flaw with Intel
processors. Since the resolution of this, technologists working at
the CISPA Helmholtz Centre (Saarbrücken, Germany) have identified a
new security gap. As EE News reports, researchers described the new
flaw enables an "inverse spectre attack".
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With the earlier issues, in January 2918, computer firms needed to
fix the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that, under a given set of
conditions, would allow attackers to steal data. Later on, a new
concern was raised in relation to a new bug called Spectre Next
Generation. Spectre NG is similar to the previously patched flaws,
allowing third parties to extract sensitive information such as
passwords stored in memory.
Now a new threat has arisen. According to Giorgi Maisuradze and
Professor Dr. Christian Rossow a ret2spec (return-to-speculation)
vulnerability with the chips allows for would-be attackers to read
data without authorization.
to Professor Rossow: “The security gap is caused by CPUs
predicting a so-called return address for runtime optimization.”
The implications of this are: “If an attacker can manipulate this
prediction, he gains control over speculatively executed program
code. It can read out data via side channels that should actually be
protected from access.
This means, in essence, that malicious web pages could interpret the
memory of the web browser in order to access and copy critical data.
Such data would include stored passwords.
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This is not a new vulnerability, because all Intel processors
manufactured over the past ten years are potentially affected by the
vulnerabilities. While the research has focused on Intel, it stands
that similar attack mechanisms will probably exist for ARM and AMD
The new vulnerability will be presented to the ACM Conference on
Computer and Communications Security, which takes place in Toronto
in October. In the meantimea
white paper has been issued, titled “ret2spec: Speculative
Execution Using Return Stack Buffers.”