'Virtually all' of AMD CPUs affected by Spectre-like flaws


The latest vulnerability follows the Meltdown and Spectre that created havoc earlier this year.

The flaws impact AMD's EPYC, Ryzen, Ryzen Pro and Ryzen Mobile processors and have been dubbed Ryzenfall, Masterkey, Fallout and Chimera by CTS Labs. It may be that CTS Labs could benefit financially from Tuesday's disclosure by taking a position against AMD's stock, according to PCMag. Let us know in the comments.

CTD-Labs divides the alleged AMD vulnerabilities into four categories, including Masterkey, Ryzenfall, Fallout, and a set of backdoors it calls Chimera that it found in a chipset provided by a Taiwanese subsidiary of Asus.

Exploiting these vulnerabilities, hackers can run malware that cannot be detected by the users and can extract important information, such as personal data, passwords, and so on because these AMD CPUs vulnerabilities allow hackers obtain administrator access to the affected computers' operating systems.

"The Ryzen chipset, a core system component that AMD outsourced to a Taiwanese chip manufacturer, ASMedia, is now being shipped with exploitable manufacturer backdoors inside", reads the whitepaper put out by CTS Labs, the company that discovered the vulnerabilities. Short-seller Viceroy Research released a report today claiming the AMD flaws are "difficult, some practically impossible, to patch" and argues the chip maker will be forced to file for bankruptcy. However, the paper does not include any technical details or proof of concepts. "It is our view that the existence of these vulnerabilities betrays disregard of fundamental security principles". "In particular, we urge the community to pay closer attention to the security of AMD devices". This sentence in particular, is a good example of some of the charged writing found throughout the paper.

AMD has no public statement on its website about the flaws as yet.

In an effort to "ensure public safety", CTS Labs says that it chose to remove technical details from its publicly published paper. "We will update this blog as news develops", the company said. It is important to note that this was only done after first sending an outline of the vulnerabilities out to press outlets.

"We are investigating this report, which we just received, to understand the methodology and merit of the findings", AMD said in an email.

In total, the security researcher claims that it has discovered 13 different critical vulnerabilities affecting 21 products, which the company successfully exploited using discovered vulnerabilities.

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CTS-Labs was formed in 2017 in Israel. "Hardware vulnerabilities such as Chimera can not be fixed and require a workaround", CTS Labs reports.

The flaws allow theft of credentials from Windows Credential Guard, the execution of malware in protected areas of the system that are inaccessible to regular security products, the disabling of BIOS flashing protections and the tampering of security features such as fTPM, CTS-Labs said.

AMD responded with a brief statement on their website.

CTS Labs' CTO, Ilia Luk-Zilberman, has now posted a letter on the AMDflaws site that says much of what he told us. From archived information, it appears that the CTS Labs domain was registered in June a year ago. With that in mind, it seems quite likely that Viceroy Research has a financial incentive to go after AMD.

CTS-Labs notes that there are "No known mitigations".

A common best practice for responsible security disclosure is that security researchers provide vendors with a window of time that can range from several days to several months to properly respond to a security report.

At the time of publishing, AMD's stock has dropped by 1.59 percent. Not so the 13 vulnerabilities detailed by CTS-Labs, which gave AMD just one day's notice before launching a website making the details public.

CTS Labs said that the Ryzen chipset, a new line from AMD, was being shipped with exploitable backdoors, which had come about as a result of obtaining technology from ASMedia, an outsourcing partner.