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Intel Processor Vulnerability Gives Access to Mac and PC Memory

Another day, another major vulnerability discovered in processors Intel. This time, the finding comes from researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute: along with specialists from the University of Lubeck, they found a loophole called Spoiler, which allows malicious agents to access Mac and PC memory and thereby access sensitive data and files.

The researchers' full article brings all technical data on vulnerability to whom it is interested; basically explaining, the failure is due to an Intel chip process called speculative execution, a feature that predicts future CPU-operated commands and jobs (which may or may not be performed) so that they are no longer needed when the command is actually requested, improving processor performance.

It turns out that by comparing the loading times of speculative processes with the actual command execution times, it is possible to determine the RAM layout of a machine. Thus, if a malicious agent is acting under the Mac / PC, it can determine which areas of memory to attack to extract important files or information.

Theoretically crackers can take advantage of the vulnerability without major difficulties: a simple malicious JavaScript code running on a browser tab or more complete malware quietly installed on the machine can use the Spoiler to extract information from Mac / PC memory much faster and more discreetly. The technique may further allow known attacks such as the Rowhammer, run more easily.

All Intel Core processors are vulnerable, but the same behavior has not been found on third-party chips such as AMD. The problem is that there is not quite a software solution that corrects the vulnerability: the basically intrinsic vulnerability of Intel processors, and any attempt to fix it would take along a good portion of the processing power of the chips.

Intel was informed of the issue last December, but it is unclear which way the company will take to solve (or at least mitigate) the problem. For now, what are left are the usual recommendations: do not download suspicious programs or coming from unreliable sources and do not visit sites that you do not trust or look strange, and always keep the security features of your operating system turned on.

via AppleInsider