back to article Intel might want to reconsider the G part of SGX – because it's been plunderstruck

Intel on Tuesday plans to release 11 security advisories, including a microcode firmware update to patch a vulnerability in its Software Guard Extensions (SGX) on recent Core microprocessors that allows a privileged attacker to corrupt SGX enclave computations. The SGX flaw has been dubbed Plundervolt by the computer …

  1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    VoltJockey sounds like a power you'd get in one of the Bioshock games.

  2. DCFusor

    Hard and crunchy on the outside,

    Soft and chewy on the inside. That's what we used to call a then-deprecated security model, as many of us thought there should be quite a lot more defense in depth. (we were talking about Windows at the time, of course)

    But with the current complexity built right in - in a way we can't leave it out or avoid it, it seems that if "they" can get in at all, they own the world no matter what. I suppose that's a complex way to say "simpler times were simpler". ;~) This just didn't happen on my Z80 (or PDP 8, 11, or in fact, earlier X 86).

    My guess is that this CRAP - and that's what it is, rides along on capabilities otherwise required (but not documented) to make the new chips work "at all".

    It does make a point that building in things the end owner can't really remove isn't so smart or desirable, especially since it appears mostly to be an attempt at lock in.

    1. sbt
      Facepalm

      Things tend to leak from soft backdoors

      Yes, it's almost as if one man's backdoor is another man's vulnerable undocumented interface. Can't think why they're considered harmful by technical folks, despite government protestations.

      1. Aitor 1

        Re: Things tend to leak from soft backdoors

        I remember commentin 10/15 years ago here in the reg that these backdoors/black boxes were going to be terrible.. and, as expected, they are.

        So no wonder that now the chinese gvnt wants out of western tech...

        1. sbt
          Alert

          An idea whose time has come ... and gone

          Don't forget the Clipper chip was a quarter of a century back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard and crunchy on the outside,

      What is in the Intel chip was put there by... Intel. Intel is a division of the CIA, NSA, etc. For the right price, your country can buy a key (feel like swinging an election? ).

      P.S. Was it too much?

      1. NetBlackOps

        Re: Hard and crunchy on the outside,

        Really doesn't matter if they are a division or not. They, Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, SAP, the list is rather long are quite capable of fucking up by the numbers all on their own. The agencies need only have bright enough people to see the opportunities that abound out there.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look on the Bright Side and the Dark Side

    On the bright side, the problem can be, sort of, fixed (do you actually look at the attestation? Oh, you hope someone who knows what they are doing does, but maybe they don't bother, or maybe that code is perverted...).

    On the dark side, when the cracker kit version appears for the equivalent biological hardware which our brains run on, well... good luck going to your local &deity abode and asking for a patch. Prayers are wishful thinking; sacrificing script kiddies on the peak of Aztec temples sometimes helps (those Aztecs, Toltecs, Mayans... way ahead of their times).

  4. Rich 11 Silver badge
    Pint

    High voltage

    +1 for the standfirst!

  5. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I have to admit, that's a bloody clever attack. Not much that you can do to prevent it either, other than "don't allow an attack full access to your machine".

  6. Huw D
    Thumb Up

    Acca Dacca!

    +Infinity for the puns

  7. Duncan Macdonald

    Overclocking ?

    Will blocking the ability to change the voltage affect dynamic overclocking tools ?

  8. trindflo Bronze badge
    Coat

    Now I have AC/DC playing in my head

    AC/DC Thunderstruck

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sponsored by Intel®

    Wtf?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/12/24/intel_data_security_hybrid_cloud/

    Sponsored by Intel®

    " Security

    To protect data and code in the age of hybrid cloud, you can always turn to Intel SGX

    A gentle guide to enclaves and trusted execution environments

    By Rene Millman 24 Dec 2019 at 07:00

    Data and code are the lifeblood of digital organisations, and increasingly these are shared with others in order to achieve specific business goals. As such, data and code must be protected no matter where the workloads run, be they in on-premises data centers, remote cloud servers, or edge-of-the-network."

    [Comments not permitted on that sponsored article? Anyone imagine why?]

    See also other SGX-related articles here and elsewhere e.g.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/15/foreshadow_sgx_software_attestations_collateral_damage/

    ""Marina [Minkin] had worked with SGX, we talked about it a bit, and she mentioned a scenario which in SGX caused an access violation exception, instead of falling into 'abort page semantics'. Because Meltdown is related to access violation exceptions we decided to give it a try."

    Once you know where to look for a vulnerability, he said, "most of the hard part is done".

    * The researchers have called two related vulns – CVE-2018-3620 and CVE-2018-3646 – "Foreshadow-NG" (next generation). Intel refers to the three flaws collectively as "L1 terminal fault".

    1. GreenReaper

      Re: Sponsored by Intel®

      I know, right? Not even a fortnight after. Did they think we'd forget so soon - or at all?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sponsored by Intel®

        And now El Reg has an article on Intel's latest attempt to relaunch the NUC concept/product. For most of the addressable market, the NUC has always been and will always be largely irrelevant. Commercial signage? Industrialised computers? Much better options exist, typically not centred around Windows-dependent IT departments and retail networks, and therefore the x86 world is irrelevant to them.

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