AMD 'investigating' critical vulnerabilities in its latest Ryzen and EPYC CPUs

Mindy Sparks
March 14, 2018

According to the group which made this discovery, the AMD vulnerabilities attack AMD EPYC, Ryzen, Ryzen Pro, and Ryzen Mobile, so if you have one of these, it is good to know that you can be affected and your devices might get exploited by hackers. In a clear play for publicity, they gave AMD just 24 hours' notice of their findings compared with the typical 90-day notice period that most security researchers provide.

CTS-Labs, a security research company which says it specializes in vulnerabilities within ASICs and other chips, has said it's discovered four potential attacks, code-named Masterkey, Ryzenfall, Fallout, and Chimera.

The vulnerabilities require root-level operating system access to exploit and could allow attackers to access sensitive information.

So in a nutshell, this suite of vulnerabilities looks to be pretty bad news for AMD.

This means that AMD-powered PCs are vulnerable to these hacks starting now, through to when the company can fix it. At AMD, security is a top priority and we are continually working to ensure the safety of our users as potential new risks arise.

AMD issued an initial statement saying that the company was investigating the report to understand the "methodology and merit" of the findings.

This company was previously unknown to AMD and we find it unusual for a security firm to publish its research to the press without providing a reasonable amount of time for the company to investigate and address its findings. Full details on each vulnerability can be found in CTS' 20-page whitepaper. Expect more follow-ups in the days ahead.


Nevertheless, CTS-Labs researchers don't want the flaws to be brushed off lightly.

Spectre redux: Earlier this year, serious security flaws dubbed Spectre and Meltdown were found in Intel and ARM processors, as well as a smaller number of AMD ones.

"We estimate that without patches from AMD, protection against the vulnerabilities can be limited at best", enSilo researchers said. Ryzenfall threatens the secure OS running on top of the Secure Processor, potentially bypassing virtualization and injecting malware.

However, these chips are used in data centres and the vulnerability effectively breaks the virtualised segregation of network credentials from other parts of a server's memory by allowing protected memory areas to be read and written upon. The Fallout flaws can be exploited by local attackers with elevated privileges to access protected memory regions. Finally, the firm claimed the Chimera attack could access "an array of hidden manufacturer backdoors" inside AMD's Promontory chipsets.

CTS said AMD's Ryzen chipset, which AMD outsourced to a Taiwanese chip manufacturer, ASMedia, "is now being shipped with exploitable manufacturer backdoors inside".

CTS-Labs is not the only security organization to discover an issue with AMD's Secure Processor.

"We believe that these vulnerabilities put networks that contain AMD computers at a considerable risk".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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