from the swallow-the-red-pill dept.
Microsoft's security team has come across a malware family that uses Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) Serial-over-LAN (SOL) interface as a file transfer tool.
Because of the way the Intel AMT SOL technology works, SOL traffic bypasses the local computer's networking stack, so local firewalls or security products won't be able to detect or block the malware while it's exfiltrating data from infected hosts.
and . . .
Intel AMT SOL exposes hidden networking interface
This is because Intel AMT SOL is part of the Intel ME (Management Engine), a separate processor embedded with Intel CPUs, which runs its own operating system.
Intel ME runs even when the main processor is powered off, and while this feature looks pretty shady, Intel built ME to provide remote administration capabilities to companies that manage large networks of thousands of computers.
I always believed the Intel Management Engine was a bad idea and a huge target for sophisticated hackers. Your hardware. Pre-compromised from the factory. A processor baked into your microprocessor with full access to the hardware. It runs a secret binary blob -- and the primary microprocessor won't run without it.
This probably isn't the last time that this will be exploited. Probably not even be the first, given the difficulty to detect it. The wonderful thing is that your OS isn't aware of the compromise and is unable to interfere with it.
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
Since the launch of AMD Ryzen, a small piece of hardware that handles basic memory initialization as well as many security functions has been the center of some controversy. Called the Platform Security Processor (the "PSP" for short) it is essentially an arm core with complete access to the entire system. Its actions can be considered "above root" level and are for the most part invisible to the OS. It is similar in this regard to Intel's Management Engine, but is in some ways even more powerful.
Why is this a bad thing? Well, let's play a theoretical. What happens if a bug is discovered in the PSP, and malware takes control of it? How would you remove it (Answer: you couldn't). How would you know you needed to remove it? (answer, unless it made itself obvious, you also wouldn't). This scenario is obviously not a good one, and is a concern for many who asked AMD to open-source the PSPs code for general community auditing.
Bit late to the reporting but we haven't covered it yet, so here it is. And I was so looking forward to a new desktop too. Guess this one will have to stay alive until ARM becomes a viable replacement.
The Intel Management Engine, and How it Stops Screenshots
Intel x86 Considered Harmful
Of Intel's Hardware Rootkit
Intel Management Engine Partially Defeated
EFF: Intel's Management Engine is a Security Hazard
Malware uses Intel AMT feature to steal data, avoid firewalls