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Intel firmware failures leave millions of computers vulnerable no matter what operating system they use

Perhaps you were not aware of this, but Intel processors have a subsystem totally independent of the operating system installed on the computer, the so-called Intel Management Engine (Intel ME). This in addition to having almost unlimited powers to control the processor, has also been criticized for the darkness in which it developed, what little is known about it, and the risks that would imply if it were violated.

For the sample, this button. Intel has confirmed the reports of a security researchers firm that found several vulnerabilities in the system that could allow a third party to execute code, extract confidential data and more.

Vulnerabilities affect a wide variety of processor families, including the 6th, 7th and 8th generation Intel Core , the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 and v6, the scalable Intel Xeon, the Intel Xeon W, the Intel Atom C3000, the Apollo Lake Intel series Atom E3900, Apollo Lake Intel Pentiums, and processors of the Celeron N and J series.

The problem ranges from laptops, to 2-in-1 computers, to servers and storage devices.

Intel launched a full internal review of its source code after being alerted of the problems. They found that bugs in the systems could allow an attacker to ” load and execute arbitrary code outside the visibility of the user and the operating system and cause system failure or instability.”

Thanks to the way in which Intel ME technology works, an attack to its vulnerabilities is able to surpass the network interface of the local computer so that neither the firewall nor any installed security product can detect it.

Back in June of this same year, Microsoft had reported a family of malware that was being used by a cyber-espionage group to take advantage of a feature in Intel ME. So it is very likely that this is not the first or the last similar case we see.

Intel has already released patches for the vulnerabilities, but its availability will depend on the hardware manufacturers that must approve it before it is installed on their machines.


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