Published in News

Boffins find another Spectre shaped hole in Intel CPUs

by on04 July 2024

Intel says it is nothing to worry about

A team of boffins from the University of California San Diego has published a paper detailing a novel attack method targeting Intel CPUs.

The chip giant says no new mitigations are required to address it and there is nothing to see here, move on please.

The new attack, Indirector, is similar to the Spectre v2 or Spectre Branch Target Injection (BTI) attack.

These methods typically allow an attacker with access to the targeted system to obtain information from memory, including sensitive data such as passwords or encryption keys.

The researchers described Indirector as a high-precision BTI attack that exploits the Indirect Branch Predictor (IBP) and the Branch Target Buffer (BTB) in high-end Intel CPUs such as Raptor Lake and Alder Lake.

According to the boffins, previous BTI attacks missed IBP, which they describe as a “critical component of the branch prediction unit that predicts the target address of indirect branches”.

“By analysing the IBP, we uncover new attack vectors that can bypass existing defences and compromise the security of modern CPUs,” the researchers said.

They have developed an iBranch Locator tool that facilitates IBP and BTB injection attacks.

The researchers said they reported their findings to Intel in February 2024 and the chip giant “has informed other affected hardware/software vendors about the issues”.

However, Intel claims that the previously issued mitigation guidance should work for the Indirector attack method.

“Intel reviewed the report submitted by academic researchers and determined that previous mitigation guidance provided for issues such as IBRS, eIBRS, and BHI is effective against this new research, and no new mitigations or guidance is required,” Intel told SecurityWeek.

In addition, the researchers have also proposed a couple of mitigation measures against Indirector attacks.

Last modified on 04 July 2024
Rate this item
(1 Vote)