by Leon Chan February 15, 2018 at 1:45 PM
Researchers created a new method of exploiting the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, which they’ve dubbed MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime, that works by observing the effects of speculative execution on data shared between caches of different CPU cores. Existing software mitigations for Meltdown/Spectre are believed to be effective against the new variants.
Princeton and Nvidia researchers teamed up to produce a testing method that can generate code that represents the essence of an attack. More precisely, their method is CPU architecture-aware, so it emulates exactly what a software attack would translate into on the hardware level. According the the researchers, their tool can be used to quickly generate a set of “security litmus tests” for a class of security exploits.
Before you get too alarmed, the researchers said that current software-based Meltdown/Spectre mitigations seem successful in blocking their new exploits. However, these exploits will likely need their own distinct fix, different from those for traditional Spectre, if they are to be mitigated in hardware. It looks like Intel and AMD will have their work cut out for them in their next generation of CPUs.
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