New Spec­tre-like vul­ner­a­bil­ity

‘Fore­shadow’ flaw af­fects In­tel-based Macs

Mac Format - - APPLE CORE / APPS & GAMES -

Ear­lier this year, the Spec­tre and Melt­down se­cu­rity flaws made head­lines around the world. Now, In­tel has ex­plained that it’s dis­cov­ered an­other sim­i­lar bug af­fect­ing its pro­ces­sors.

The vul­ner­a­bil­ity, dubbed the L1 Ter­mi­nal Fault (L1TF) or Fore­shadow, af­fects Se­cu­rity Guard Ex­ten­sions (SGX) in­side In­tel’s Core pro­ces­sors. Ap­ple uses these chips across its range of Mac com­put­ers.

In­tel’s SGX sys­tem es­sen­tially cre­ates a se­cure area of the pro­ces­sor where sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion is stored. It’s de­signed to be able to pre­vent ma­li­cious code from read­ing this data, even in the event of your ma­chine be­ing taken over by a ma­li­cious at­tacker. Fore­shadow uses a sim­i­lar tech­nique to Spec­tre and Melt­down, but is able to gain ac­cess to the sen­si­tive data stored in the SGX. It can also ex­tract the at­tes­ta­tion key, which is used in the SGX’s in­tegrity checks.

In­tel has said that it will roll out up­dates to fix the prob­lem. It is likely that Ap­ple is also work­ing on in­te­grat­ing In­tel’s patches into macOS, given how many Ap­ple com­put­ers use pro­ces­sors from the com­pany.

Fore­shadow is a com­pli­cated at­tack to pull off, so it is un­likely ev­ery­day users will be af­fected. Still, you should be safe and up­date your Mac as soon as patches are avail­able.

Fore­shadow fol­lows the ear­lier Melt­down and Spec­tre flaws. A patch is in the works.

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