Tuesday March 20, 2018

AMD Responds To CTS Labs Vulnerability Claims

Last week we wrote about possible AMD security flaws that were announced by CTS Labs. Today, AMD has released their assessment of CTS Labs' claims in a community post. AMD makes it clear that the issues identified by CTS Labs have nothing to do with Meltdown and Spectre, but are associated with the firmware that manages the AMD Secure Processor, as well as the chipset used in some AM4 and TR4 motherboards.

AMD Notes that all issues raised in the CTS Labs report require administrative access to the machine in order to implement, meaning before any of these exploits could be used, an attacker would already have full control of the system, and can essentially, do whatever they want. Despite this, AMD is releasing a firmware patch that will be available via BIOS update, and will not have any expected impact on system performance to address the issues. An article on PCPer goes into more depth.

In addition CTS Labs has posted a video on YouTube, showing proof-of-concept for the Masterkey-1 exploit. In the video CTS Labs shows them installing a modified BIOS for a TYAN motherboard which makes the screen flicker during boot.

The integrity of CTS Labs has come into question, since they published the vulnerabilities last week, to where even Linus Torvalds spoke about it in his signature style. I find it interesting that CTS Labs has decided to disable comments and hige the like/dislike ratio for the video above. And I find it impressive that AMD is going to release a patch for this, despite the fact the attacker must already have full access to the machine, as well as know what motherboard it is using in order to write a custom BIOS. Still seems quite shady to me.