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‘Unfixable’ Boot ROM Security Flaw in Millions of Intel Chips

Published: March 12, 2020
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A slit in Intel's security – a tiny window of opportunity – has been discovered, and it's claimed the momentary weakness could be one day exploited to wreak "utter chaos."

It is a fascinating vulnerability, though non-trivial to abuse in a practical sense. It cannot be fixed without replacing the silicon, only mitigated, it is claimed: the design flaw is baked into millions of Intel processor chipsets manufactured over the past five years. The problem revolves around cryptographic keys that, if obtained, can be used to break the root of trust in a system.

Buried deep inside modern Intel chipsets is what's called the Management Engine, or these days, the Converged Security and Manageability Engine (CSME). We've written about this a lot: it's a miniature computer within your computer. It has its own CPU, its own RAM, its own code in a boot ROM, and access to the rest of the machine.

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