A telecommunication test set connected to a network switch, to perform some data transmission quality measurements.

BF-SIRT Newsletter 2018-30

New Spectre attack enables secrets to be leaked over a network

In a paper named “NetSpectre: Read Arbitrary Memory over Network” researchers from Graz University of Technology, including one of the original Meltdown discoverers, Daniel Gruss, have described NetSpectre: a fully remote attack based on Spectre. With NetSpectre, an attacker can remotely read the memory of a victim system without running any code on that system.

The major catch  is that this side-channel attack only leaks 15 bits per hour, or 60 bits an hour via an AVX-based covert channel, which means it could take days to find and gather privileged information such as an encryption key or authentication token.

Intel has issued a statement saying: “NetSpectre is an application of Bounds Check Bypass (CVE-2017-5753), and is mitigated in the same manner – through code inspection and modification of software to ensure a speculation stopping barrier is in place where appropriate. We provide guidance for developers in our whitepaper, Analyzing Potential Bounds Check Bypass Vulnerabilities, which has been updated to incorporate this method. We are thankful to Michael Schwarz, Daniel Gruss, Martin Schwarzl, Moritz Lipp, & Stefan Mangard of Graz University of Technology for reporting their research.”

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(Blogpost image by Ildefonso Polo under “Do whatever you want”-license by Unsplash)