Four new vulnerabilities affecting Intel chips

Four new vulnerabilities affecting Intel chips

Now, once again, Intel is in the spotlight. Intel has disclosed a fault in its software chips that, if exploited, could allow hackers to access sensitive information directly from processors.


TechCrunch announced on Tuesday that security researchers from Graz University of Technology have found a new critical vulnerability flaws CVEs (common vulnerabilities and exposures) in Intel microprocessors.

According to Intel, the new data-leaking bugs that put chips at risk was reported to them just a month ago.

The name of the attack comes from "Zombie load"- a section of data that is unable to be processed properly, forcing the processor to seek help from its microcode so that the device doesn’t crash.

The vulnerability could affect PCs, laptops, and cloud. “ZombieLoad” attack could exploit existing flaws to steal data rather than creating malware. any data processed by the chip can be used in a ZombieLoad attack.


The new attack techniques can be used to leak sensitive secrets like passwords or encryption keys from protected memory regions. These techniques could allow attackers to reconstruct secrets without having direct access to them, by analyzing how data passes through the CPU's microarchitectural components during speculative execution.

Intel calls these attacks a microarchitectural data sampling (MDS), and has split into four vulnerabilities with the reported issues:

  • CVE-2018-12126 - a flaw that could lead to information disclosure from the processor store buffer.

  • CVE-2018-12127 - an exploit of the microprocessor load operations that can provide data to an attacker about CPU registers and operations in the CPU pipeline.

  • CVE-2018-12130 - the most serious of the three issues and involved the implementation of the microprocessor fill buffers and can expose data within that buffer.

  • CVE-2019-11091 - a flaw in the implementation of the "fill buffer," a mechanism used by modern CPUs when a cache-miss is made on L1 CPU cache.

Cristiano Giuffrida, one of the researchers in the VUSec group at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who discovered the MDS attack ( microarchitectural data sampling), has explained these attacks.

Giuffrida says,

It's kind of like we treat the CPU as a network of components, and we basically eavesdrop on the traffic between them. We hear anything that these components exchange.


Microsoft, Apple, and Google have already released patches to do what they can for a fix. Intel has also released a microcode patch for its CPUs. Microsoft notes that the vulnerabilities affect systems including Android, iOS, Linux, and MacOS so customers should look to their device vendors for more information.

Red Hat also strongly suggests that customers update their systems whether or not they believe themselves to be at risk.


Stock photo from canon_shooter

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