Technion team breaches Intel’s new security wall for processors
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Technion team breaches Intel’s new security wall for processors

Intel has already released patches to mitigate vulnerability of SGX, which is deployed in all Intel’s recent processors

A Technion team has managed to breach Intel's new security wall Software Guard Extension (SGX); Intel has released patches to mitigate vulnerability (YouTube screenshot)
A Technion team has managed to breach Intel's new security wall Software Guard Extension (SGX); Intel has released patches to mitigate vulnerability (YouTube screenshot)

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and their colleagues abroad said they have managed to breach Intel’s security wall for its processors, created to protect the privacy and integrity of information and applications on computers.

Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX), which was breached by the researchers, has been deployed in all recent Intel processors used in both personal computers and cloud computing services.

The attack, dubbed Foreshadow by the researchers, exploits certain weaknesses in the existing mechanisms of Intel CPUs, allowing attackers to expose private application data and forge computations secured by SGX.

The researchers reported Foreshadow to Intel in January. Further analysis into the causes of Foreshadow performed by Intel revealed that the same hardware flaw enabled a number of other devastating attacks, which the company called Foreshadow –NG.

The patches to mitigate these attacks have already been released, the Technion said in a statement.

The researchers from the Technion are Assistant Prof. Mark Silberstein of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and his graduate student Marina Minkin from the Computer Science Department. They conducted the study together with colleagues from The University of Adelaide (Australia), the University of Michigan (USA) and KU Leuven (Belgium).

The team’s work will be presented on Wednesday at a security conference, USENIX Security ’18, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Technion researchers Assistant Prof. Mark Silberstein of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and his graduate student Marina Minkin from the Computer Science Department (Nitzan Zohar, Technion spokesperson’s office)

Intel’s SGX was rolled out as a revolutionary hardware technology that enables the creation of secure execution environments,called secure enclaves.

The team of researchers, however, managed to read all the information stored in the enclave and managed to compromise core security guarantees provided by SGX, “toppling” a large part of the entire SGX ecosystem by exploiting a single critical hardware vulnerability, the researchers said in a statement.

The discovery of other vulnerabilities in January 2018, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, required Intel to distribute security updates to about 90 percent of the processors it had sold over the past five years.

In a post Intel published on Tuesday on its website, the company said it was “not aware of reports” that the vulnerabilities have been used in “real world exploits, but this further underscores the need for everyone to adhere to security best practices.”

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