Fresh crop of Spectre flaws haunting Intel

Spectre-NG Security bods uncover eight new 'Spectre-class' flaws in Intel CPUs

According to researchers, the attack scenario to exploit these vulnerabilities resemble the Spectre exploit. German technology outlet C't has published a report this week claiming to have confirmed that Intel is investigating eight new hardware-related vulnerabilities in the Spectre family, to which it has assigned the codename Spectre Next Generation or Spectre-NG.

"Assuming they prove to be legitimate, the group of vulnerabilities coined as "Spectre-NG" may pose significantly higher risks to cloud operators and multi-tenant environments than the original variants of Spectre. The details that are available for "Spectre-NG" hint that it's incredibly easy to use, but we won't know for sure until we can see what the actual problems are". Passwords and secret keys for secure data transmission are highly sought-after targets on cloud systems and are acutely endangered by this gap. Rather, it seems that for each fixed issue, two others crop up. "During the past twenty years, safety considerations have only played second fiddle to performance in processor development".

Intel has actually addressed the recent report, though briefly and vaguely, in a blog post called "Addressing Questions Regarding Additional Security Issues". Both Intel's 10nm and AMD's 7nm processors will reportedly deliver real security solutions.

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The year began with disgusting news for CPU manufacturers after two security flaws, named Meltdown and Spectre, were discovered. However, these exploits have not been made public.

At this stage, it is unclear if AMD processors and chips following the ARM architecture are also vulnerable to the Spectre-NG attacks. "We routinely work closely with customers, partners, other chipmakers and researchers to understand and mitigate any issues that are identified, and part of this process involves reserving blocks of CVE numbers", wrote Leslie Culbertson, Intel executive vice president. An Intel representative declined to comment on the vulnerabilities described in the c't magazine.

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