Monday, 18 June, 2018

Intel's Chip Patch Triggers Reboots for Haswell, Broadwell Systems

An Update on AMD Processor Security | AMD Meltdown and Spectre chip flaw timeline
Frank Williams | 13 January, 2018, 06:04

Meltdown, for those unaware, is the term coined to describe a flaw in modern Intel CPUs, which leaves a computer's kernel memory - the encrypted part of a system used to store sensitive information, like passwords - susceptible to hackers.

AMD also said it is working with both Microsoft and Linux vendors on future Spectre patches for AMD systems, as well as "engaging closely with the Linux community" on Retpoline, aka "return trampoline", which is a mitigation technique developed by Google for the branch target injection attacks. The second Variant, which again is part of Spectre, proved much more hard to patch, as Google was specifically trying to avoid a hit to performance.

Variant 2 proved to be much more challenging for the Google engineering team.

The Meltdown and Spectre effect may begin to level out now that AMD has come clean about Spectre Variant 2. However, in testing, Google found that made its services slow and inconsistent.

Porn-Laden Gaming Apps Infiltrate Google Play
Check Point says the "malicious code's own ad library... contains ads of an offensive nature, including pornographic ads". Google removed the affected apps from the Google Play app store soon after Check Point reported the issue.

In the letter Krzanich thanked Google Project Zero for revealing the issues in a responsible manner, and also pledged that the company would increase industry and academic research into security and improve disclosure of security issues. That's when Google engineers looked into "moonshot" solutions. This binary modification that ensures programs can not be influenced by branch target injection.

"With Retpoline, we could protect our infrastructure at compile-time, with no source-code modifications", reads an excerpt from a January 11th, 2018 Google blog post. The first and third Variants, which belong to Spectre and Meltdown respectively, were patched way back in September with no resulting performance loss and even no downtime as Google applied the fix. When it was rolled out recently, again, no one using services like Gmail noticed any performance degradation.

"The threat and the response to the three variants differ by microprocessor company, and AMD is not susceptible to all three variants". He added that Intel is working with other companies to minimize the impact those patches will have on user workloads.

As work continues on short-term fixes, many experts agree the technology industry faces a wholesale reckoning of long-established practices that led to these vulnerabilities in the first place. It might take a while for everyone to get on the same page.

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