Intel’s CPU List affected by Meltdown and Spectre Speculative Execution and Indirect Branch Prediction Side Channel Analysis Method

We talk about Meltdown and Spectre Here and Here.

In this article we’re reporting the Intel’s CPU list affected by Meltdown and Spectre.

Speculative Execution and Indirect Branch Prediction Side Channel Analysis Method

 

Intel ID: INTEL-SA-00088
Product family: Systems with Speculative Execution
Impact of vulnerability: Information Disclosure
Severity rating: Important
Original release: Jan 03, 2018
Last revised: Jan 03, 2018
Summary:Today a team of security researchers disclosed several software analysis methods that, when used for malicious purposes, have the potential to improperly gather sensitive data from many types of computing devices with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems.

Intel is committed to product and customer security and to responsible disclosure. We worked closely with many other technology companies, including AMD, ARM Holdings and several operating system vendors, to develop an industry-wide approach to mitigate this issue promptly and constructively.

For facts about these new exploits, and steps you can take to help protect your systems and information please visit: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/facts-about-side-channel-analysis-and-intel-products.html.

Description:Systems with microprocessors utilizing speculative execution and indirect branch prediction may allow unauthorized disclosure of information to an attacker with local user access via a side-channel analysis.

Affected products:For non-Intel based systems please contact your system manufacturer or microprocessor vendor (AMD, ARM, Qualcomm, etc.) for updates.

The following Intel-based platforms are impacted by this issue. Intel may modify this list at a later time. Please check with your system vendor or equipment manufacturer for more information regarding updates for your system.

  • Intel® Core™ i3 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ M processor family (45nm and 32nm)
  • 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 5th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 6th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 7th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 8th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X99 platforms
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X299 platforms
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3400 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 6500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 7500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v6 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family
  • Intel® Xeon Phi™ Processor 3200, 5200, 7200 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor C Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor E Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor A Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor x3 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor Z Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor N Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor N Series

 

Recommendations:Intel has worked with operating system vendors, equipment manufacturers, and other ecosystem partners to develop software updates that can help protect systems from these methods. End users and systems administrators should check with their operating system vendors and apply any available updates as soon as practical.

For non-Intel based systems please contact your system manufacturer or microprocessor vendor (AMD, ARM, Qualcomm, etc.) for updates.

Please check with your system vendor or equipment manufacturer for more information regarding your system.

Other variants of this side-channel analysis are being addressed by Operating System and Software Vendors.  For more details see:

–         CVE-2017-5753 https://01.org/security/advisories/intel-oss-10002

–         CVE-2017-5754 https://01.org/security/advisories/intel-oss-10003

Acknowledgements:Intel would like to thank Jann Horn with Google Project Zero for his original report and for working with the industry on coordinated disclosure.

Intel would also like to thank the following researchers for working with us on coordinated disclosure.

  • Moritz Lipp, Michael Schwarz, Daniel Gruss, Stefan Mangard from Graz University of Technology
  • Paul Kocher, Daniel Genkin from University of Pennsylvania and University of Maryland, Mike Hamburg from Rambus, Cryptography Research Division and Yuval Yarom from  University of Adelaide and Data61.

Thomas Prescher and Werner Haas from Cyberus Technology, Germa

Revision history:

Revision
Date
Description
1.0
03-January-2018
Initial Release
1.1
03-January-2018
Update Links
1.2
05-January-2018
Update
CVE Name:  CVE-2017-5715

All You Need To Know About Spectre And Meltdown A pair of bugs has silently infested CPUs from Intel, AMD, and ARM for years.

 

After two days of whirlwind developments, we finally have more of a complete picture of the new vulnerabilities that impact processors from the leading vendors. Reports initially surfaced two days ago that Intel’s processors are susceptible to a new hardware-based bug that cannot be patched with a mere microcode update. A report from The Register, based in part on a blog post, said that incoming Windows and Linux patches would correct the vulnerability but come with a 5-30% performance loss depending on the workload.

The industry remained silent due to NDAs that were scheduled to expire on January 9, the same date as a round of patches were scheduled to appear. After a day of silence while its stock slumped, Intel issued a statement and claimed the issue is not a hardware bug. Intel also announced that it’s working with other titans of the industry, such as AMD and ARM Holdings, to “develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively.” AMD has since released a statement and claimed that it has minimal exposure to the primary vulnerability.

The root issues behind the vulnerabilities weren’t clearly defined at the time, but a slew of releases from several of the parties involved, along with Google’s Project Zero team, have shed light on two new exploits that have served as the catalyst for the recent developments. We’ll cover the new exploits below; then we’ll get to the updates from Intel, ARM, AMD, and Nvidia.

Performance First

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts, recent tests indicate the patch does not impart a cataclysmic performance loss in most workloads. Phoronix tested the Linux patch, and Computerbase.de tested a patched Windows Insider build.

The good news? Most desktop applications appear to be safe in both Windows 10 and Linux. That includes most workloads that are largely confined to the user space, such as gaming and normal productivity applications. There does appear to be a slowdown to storage I/O operations (2-7%), but for now it’s hard to ascertain if that is due to the patch or other kernel updates. The Windows 10 patch was rolled out to the Windows Insider builds in November, and there haven’t been reports of performance issues.

The bad news? The patch does incur a performance overhead to some enterprise applications. Phoronix recorded significant performance regressions in the object-relational PostgreSQL database. Redis also suffers a performance loss. Many industry analysts feel the real impacts will come in virtualized environments, but we have yet to see benchmarks. Google has already updated all its cloud infrastructure, which includes its cloud computing services, and we haven’t yet heard of significant user backlash due to reduced performance.

Meet Meltdown & Spectre

Google’s Project Zero touched off the vulnerability scare when it discovered that it could access data held in the protected kernel memory through two exploits that are now known as Meltdown and Spectre. Google does not believe these exploits have ever been used in the wild, but it’s impossible to tell if they have or not.

 

Meltdown is both easy to execute and easy to fix. This exploit allows applications to read from the protected kernel memory. That ability can allow hackers to read passwords, encryption keys, or other data from the memory. Intel’s statement specifically noted that the exploits cannot corrupt, modify, or delete data, but those points are moot if the attacker can access passwords and encryption keys. The biggest concern for data centers and cloud service providers is that the exploit also allows an application resident in one virtual machine to access the memory of another remote virtual machine. This means an attacker could rent an instance on a public cloud and collect information from other virtual machines on the same server.

Researchers have been able to execute a Meltdown exploit only on Intel processors, although ARM has submitted patches to protect itself from the same method of attack. In fact, the attack exploits Intel’s out-of-order execution implementation that is present on every Intel processor made since 1995. Researchers discovered Meltdown last year. The exploit is reportedly simple enough that a script kiddie could execute the attack, so a fix is of utmost importance.

Apple already patched this exploit in the MacOS December OSX patch (10.13.2). Windows is also pushing emergency patches out immediately. The Linux kernel has also been patched. These patches do have performance impacts, as we noted above, that largely revolve around how frequently the application issues kernel calls.

The Spectre exploit is much more nefarious and impacts Intel, AMD, and ARM. This exploit can access kernel memory or data from other applications. Researchers contend that fixing this exploit would require a fundamental re-tooling of all processor architectures, so we’ll live with the threat of this vulnerability for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, this exploit is extremely hard to execute and requires an elevated level of knowledge of the interior workings of the target processor.

These two exploits are categorized into three variants. Variants 1 and 2 are Spectre, whereas Variant 3 is Meltdown. Intel is vulnerable to all three.

Variant 1: bounds check bypass (CVE-2017-5753)
Variant 2: branch target injection (CVE-2017-5715)
Variant 3: rogue data cache load (CVE-2017-5754)

Levels Of Exposure

We reached out to AMD, and the company responded with the following information, which has since been publicly released.

Most notably, AMD claims that is has zero vulnerability to Variant 3 (Meltdown), stating that the patches that are currently being issued for Meltdown do not apply to its processors due to “architectural differences.” This is excellent news for AMD, as it therefore has no exposure to the current round of potentially performance-sapping patches. That bodes very well for the company as it reenters the data center with a competitive line of EPYC processors.

The Ryzen desktop processors are also not susceptible to Meltdown. Linus Torvalds has also granted AMD an exemption to the performance penalties incurred by the Linux patch for Meltdown.

AMD is vulnerable to Variant 1, which is a Spectre exploit. As noted above, many contend that Spectre is not likely to see an effective patch any time soon, and some researchers claim the vulnerability exists in every modern processor architecture in existence. They also claim that fixing the issues could require a redesign of fundamental processor architectures. AMD said it has a patch that can mitigate Variant 1 with minimal performance impact and further stated that it has a “near zero risk of exploitation” from Variant 2, which is also a Spectre exploit.

Nvidia also issued a statement regarding the vulnerabilities:

Nvidia’s core business is GPU computing. We believe our GPU hardware is immune to the reported security issue and are updating our GPU drivers to help mitigate the CPU security issue. As for our SoCs with ARM CPUs, we have analyzed them to determine which are affected and are preparing appropriate mitigations.

ARM Holdings has added a security update to its website that outlines its exposure to the vulnerabilities, and like Intel, it is susceptible to all three variants.

The legal ramifications of these developments could be troublesome. The Law Offices of Howard G. Smith has already announced an investigation on behalf of Intel Corporation investors, and there will likely be more similar developments in the coming weeks. Intel has a history of establishing a reserve to cover pending large-scale hardware replacements, but the company has not disclosed a new fund to deal with the vulnerabilities. The company has also stated that it does not expect any impact to its business.

Intel’s statement on the matter specifically says that the exploits are not caused by a “bug” or a “flaw” that is unique to Intel products. Intel also noted that the exploits can “gather sensitive data from computing devices that are operating as designed.” These statements likely indicate Intel will defend any potential claims because “the hardware is working correctly.” Depending on when these vulnerabilities became known (some claim that Meltdown-type attacks have been a known entity since 2010), these points may be challenged in court. ARM and other vendors may also face similar challenges.

Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, also sold $39 million in stocks in November 2017 (this doesn’t include the amount he paid for the stock options). These transaction initially appeared innocuous (and they may be) because Krzanich sold the stock under a 10b5-1(c) plan, which is a pre-planned sale of stocks intended to prevent claims of insider trading. The sale left Krzanich with the Intel-mandated minimum of 250,000 stocks. The sale was pre-planned on October 30. Now, though, MarketWatch claims Intel was made aware of the vulnerability on June 1, which may draw attention to the matter from regulatory officials. Business Insider said a representative for the Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment on the matter.

Considering the lengthy preparation period, we imagine there will not be any major service disruptions to the cloud service providers. However, we expect more details to come to light concerning performance impacts of the new patches on various workloads. Stay tuned.

Related Articles: Understanding The Meltdown And Spectre Exploits: Intel, AMD, ARM, And Nvidia