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Old 01-07-2018, 12:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by headhawg View Post
Intel's spin on the problem: Side-channel Analysis
When they say "it must be running locally on a system" that sounds good and all...but something can be running locally on a system after it is downloaded from the web or malware is obtained by browsing a malicious site...yes?

What is the real difference between this security hole, or a hole in Windows itself (which as we know, has had MANY), that allows a malicious actor to capitalize on said security hole?

The only difference is, how easily and efficiently can the hole be closed. With Windows, it's usually a patch.

With Intel CPUs and chipsets, how do we close it? Not sure why a BIOS update would fix this...but I guess somehow it would?

So, bottom line, I'm not sure why everyone is going insane over this. There are Windows security breaches all the time...and they are patched. Windows is run by the majority of the world.

Now we have a security breach in INTEL chips...I suppose INTEL runs the majority of the world's computers.

Why is it somehow different or cataclysmic this time around?

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Old 01-07-2018, 01:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaceAdvantage View Post
When they say "it must be running locally on a system" that sounds good and all...but something can be running locally on a system after it is downloaded from the web or malware is obtained by browsing a malicious site...yes?
Yes.
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Originally Posted by PaceAdvantage View Post
What is the real difference between this security hole, or a hole in Windows itself (which as we know, has had MANY), that allows a malicious actor to capitalize on said security hole?
Because it affects more devices including those not running Windows. Plus, we're talking about a hardware level problem that will involve more than one company issuing a patch. And we're talking about reading kernel memory here. Basically having access to everything that happens on a computer. Eeesh.
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With Intel CPUs and chipsets, how do we close it? Not sure why a BIOS update would fix this...but I guess somehow it would?
My educated guess is that the Intel has to rewrite the CPU microcode. Current BIOSes will not be able to run it properly unless they are updated. As someone mentioned previously, I doubt that motherboard manufacturers are going to update all the old(er) BIOSes.

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Why is it somehow different or cataclysmic this time around?
I think that no antivirus/antimalware will be able to detect a problem. You could be antimalware-protected to the hilt and it won't do any good. And what if your motherboard BIOS won't get an update?
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:36 AM   #18
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I don't know...I still see this the same way I would see a big ol' security breach in Windows that happens all the time.

What's the worst thing someone can get off my computer? My passwords and my personal information. Plenty of malware and viruses have been scouring Windows PCs for passwords and personal information for years.

And since the majority of windows users run INTEL chips, what really is the difference here?

I still don't see the whole "end of the world" thing here...I see it as yet another vulnerability with my computer, whether it be with Microsoft Windows or Intel CPUs.

Now, if INTEL comes out and says there is no way to effectively fix this, then we might have an EOTW scenario...
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaceAdvantage View Post
Now, if INTEL comes out and says there is no way to effectively fix this, then we might have an EOTW scenario...
I guess what I am saying is that this is a much larger problem because: 1) a LOT more devices are affected (including the "invulnerable" Apple and Linux products); 2) not all devices may be able to implement Intel's fix; and 3) due to the way the info is stolen user won't know that their device has been compromised.

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What's the worst thing someone can get off my computer? My passwords and my personal information. Plenty of malware and viruses have been scouring Windows PCs for passwords and personal information for years.
True, but an attack based on this flaw would effectively give a hacker administrative rights to your machine even after you changed passwords a million times. So that could lead to someone having a skeleton key to anyone's system, including those on the cloud. Data could be stolen/deleted, new ransomware could be created, and yes, passwords/personal info could be stolen.

Sounds pretty EOTW-ish to me. Let's hope it's not. I'm not ready to give up the Internet just yet.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaceAdvantage View Post
...What is the real difference between this security hole, or a hole in Windows itself (which as we know, has had MANY), that allows a malicious actor to capitalize on said security hole?...

Why is it somehow different or cataclysmic this time around?
It's not an end of the world scenario.

But, to my way of thinking, it's nastier this time around because other than staying completely off the internet - there really isn't an ironclad way to protect yourself.

Or maybe it's been that way for a while and I am just now finding out about it.

Patching your own machine doesn't mean you aren't vulnerable. Using a machine with a non-Intel chip doesn't mean you aren't vulnerable.

Consider the comment that I quoted beneath the article at the following link:
https://seekingalpha.com/article/413...tary-indicates

Quote:
Dannotech

Comments (261) |+ Follow |Send Message

@Jbitzerjr

The way the attacks works is that I could, as a C++ developer, buy a subscription to Azure, write a simple program that does some data analytics in the cloud, load it with my exploit, upload that program to the Azure cloud and let it run. And even though it a purely user-mode application, it has access to the machine and is constantly scraping data from other client OS's on that machine by peeking into the Kernel memory without the datacenter having any knowledge that the attack is happening.

There is no telling who might be my virtual neighbors on that machine, but what if it's a bank's web sight? The attacker could easy scrape account numbers and passwords as users login.

So yea, this is way bigger than on-site bad actors.
Suppose for the sake of argument you are using a machine with an Intel chip that's been patched, or you are using a machine with an AMD chip that isn't vulnerable to the exploit -- and while browsing the web you visit a site hosted on a server that hasn't been patched and has one of the newer Intel chips subject to the exploit.

Also suppose for the sake of argument that I am a hacker, and that I am hosting a site on that same server - a site that you never even visit - and that as part of my site, I am running a web service I wrote for the sole purpose of harvesting keyboard characters keyed by visitors who are browsing all of the other sites hosted on that same server - including the site you went there to visit using your patched machine.

As soon as you log into that site: I am now in possession of your login credentials. Suppose for the sake of argument they are:
Quote:
username: johnsmith @ aol.com
password: jsmith_ #417
Let's further suppose that the site you were visiting is a horse racing message board and it just so happens that's the only site in the world where you are using username johnsmith @ aol.com with password jsmith_ #417.

So the only thing I as a hacker can do with those log in credentials is log into that site and make posts as you.

Like you said: No biggie.

But I'm guessing that if I am able to harvest enough username/passwords:

There are probably a LOT of john smiths out there who are using the same username/password across multiple sites -- including those where real money is handled... paypal, banks, brokerage houses, etc.

The difference here is that patching your own machine, or using a machine with a chipset that isn't vulnerable to the exploits doesn't protect you.

Unless you stay completely off the internet you are literally relying on all web hosts everywhere to maintain servers that have been patched.

Off the top of my head, I'm guessing something like 99.999% of all legitimate web hosts are going to patch their servers as soon as patches become available (and keep them patched.)

But I'm also guessing there are always going to be bad actors who will intentionally operate server farms on machines that are never going to be patched.

I'm also guessing these bad actors will be hosting sites on those machines where the sole objective is to entice as many john smiths as possible to visit, create an account, and log in -- in hopes of harvesting login credentials that can be used somewhere else.

Like I said, maybe it's been that way for a while and I am just now finding out about it.

To my way of thinking, because the only way to really protect yourself is to stay completely off the internet: These exploits seem like a very big deal.




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Last edited by Jeff P; 01-07-2018 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:27 PM   #21
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Good points Jeff...some I hadn't thought about.
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Old 01-09-2018, 08:05 PM   #22
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What Windows and CPU combinations will take a performance hit due to Spectre/Meltdown? M$ Secure
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:33 AM   #23
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VPN?

Can VPN help with this problem?
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:42 AM   #24
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No, a VPN won't help with this problem. Spectre/Meltdown works at the CPU level not at the IP network level.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:15 AM   #25
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I spoke to someone yesterday that works in the industry. I asked how long until itís safe to buy an Intel based system.

He said Intel has thousands of vulnerable chips in the retail channel that would have to be destroyed and they are balking at doing that.

I was just about to pull the trigger on a new machine. My contact says I should be prepared to wait until 3rd quarter of 2018
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:52 PM   #26
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Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread.

Is there any consensus on what percentage of computers are expected to be actually affected?
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:21 AM   #27
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The Meltdown exploit affects every Intel processor made since the Pentium, but AMD CPUs are relatively safe from it. ARM processors are also affected. All brands of CPUs are affected by the Spectre exploit. Just assume the device your using is affected and follow whatever guidelines are given to apply the stop-gap fix(es). And they are stop-gap. There is no permanent fix to the problem until new CPU architecture is designed. That's going to be a while; see JR's last post.
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