Anyone still keeping track of all the Spectre-based vulnerabilities that were revealed to the public in 2018?
We published numerous articles on the topic already, and there is certainly some fatigue involved when it comes to the class of vulnerabilities.
Check out these resources for an overview if you have not already:
Two security researchers, Vladimir Kiriansky and Carl Waldspurger, published information about two new Spectre-class vulnerabilities which they named Spectre 1.1 and 1.2.
Intel and ARM have released statements already in which the companies confirm that the new Spectre variants affect company CPUs. AMD has not released a statement yet but it is likely that Spectre 1.1 and 1.2 affect AMD processors as well.
Spectre 1.1 "leverages speculative stores to create speculative buffer overflows".
Much like classic buffer overflows, speculative out-ofbounds stores can modify data and code pointers. Data-value attacks can bypass some Spectre-v1 mitigations, either directly or by redirecting control flow. Control-flow attacks enable arbitrary speculative code execution, which can bypass fence instructions and all other software mitigations for previous speculative-execution attacks. It is easy to construct return-oriented-programming (ROP) gadgets that can be used to build alternative attack payloads.
Spectre 1.2 works on processors that don't "enforce read/write protections" so that "speculative stores can overwrite read-only data and code pointers to breach sandboxes".
Both vulnerabilities require that attack code is executed on vulnerable systems. While that certainly reduces the chance of exploitation, it is fair to say that the two new vulnerabilities add to the large list of Spectre-class vulnerabilities revealed in 2018.
There is little that users or system administrators can do about these issues. Patches and updates can be installed when they become available, but it seems likely that the cat and mouse game won't end until new processor families become adopted that don't have these flaws in first place.
The researchers suggested three hardware-based mitigations for Spectre 1.1 and one hardware-based mitigation for Spectre 1.1 attacks.
The only thing that most users can do right now is to run proper security protections on their devices to avoid that malicious code is executed on machines that would exploit one of the Spectre vulnerabilities that has not been patched yet on devices.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.