PCs Running On Intel Processors Are Vulnerable To SWAPGS Attacks

Bitdefender researchers have discovered a new vulnerability affecting computer systems running intel modems built since 2012.

SWAPGS vulnerability helps a program having malicious codes in it to get access to the system’s kernel memory. After getting access to the kernel memory of the infected computer system, hackers can easily read sensitive data like emails, passwords, chat messages, important documents & notes, payment information details etc.

During the BlackHat conference 2019, there were many popular tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Red Hat, and Intel who released an advisory related to the SWAPGS vulnerability.

It is to be noted that Microsoft has already released a fix for this vulnerability back in July of this year under “Patch Tuesday”. If you have updated your computer system with the latest security updates then you are already safe from the vulnerability.

About SWAPGS Vulnerability & Its working

The vulnerability found in the intel modems was first discovered in 2018 by one of the researchers of Bitdefender named Andrei Vlad Lutas.  This vulnerability led to Spectre and Meltdown attacks. Andrei went to intel and reported the company about the vulnerability. The Bitdefender researcher worked with Intel and Microsoft for more than a year before the public disclosure of this speculative vulnerability. Finally, the team working behind this vulnerability decided to disclose the hardware vulnerability during the BlackHat conference in 2019.

Computer systems powered by the latest Intel processors have a feature called speculative execution which increases the performance of the system by executing instructions before they are needed.

The real issue is that the speculative execution feature leaves traces in the cache memory. This allows hackers to get access to the instructions & information stored in the protected kernel memory by implementing side-channel attacks.

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What Tech Companies are doing to fix this?

As already mentioned, Microsoft has already released a security patch to fix this issue. Intel is working with Microsoft to fix this issue and the company believes that it would better if the vulnerability gets fixed on the software level.

According to Bleeping Computer, Googe has also provided a vulnerability fix in ChromeOS 4.19 which will soon reach all the Chromebooks.

AMD has claimed that their hardware has not been affected by the SWAPGS vulnerability. If you interested to read the full analysis of the SWAPGS attack provided by Bitdefender then click here.

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