A new hacking method called Hertzbleed It can remotely read parts of data from computer chips and make cryptographic algorithms vulnerable to attack.
This type of attack has recently been identified and can be used to obtain information from computer chips.
This issue has attracted the attention of technology security researchers and technology news websites. Stay with us in the next article.
What is Hertzbleed?
It’s a new hacking method that uses a power-saving feature common in modern computer chips to steal sensitive data. The feasibility of this hack has been shown in the laboratory and can be used by hackers.
Most chips use a technique called dynamic frequency scaling or CPU throttling are used to increase or decrease the speed of execution of instructions. Ramping the CPU power up and down to match the processing demand makes them more efficient.
In the past, hackers have demonstrated that they can read the pattern of these power changes and gain information about the data being processed. This information can give them a foothold to break into a computer.
Hertzbleed’s research team found that you can actually do something similar remotely and carefully observe how fast a computer is performing certain operations, then use that information to detect and steal data being processed by the CPU. Realizing that such attacks can be carried out remotely makes the matter even more dangerous, as it is much easier for hackers to carry out remote attacks.
What does this matter mean?
Intel declined an interview request by New Scientist, but said in a security alert that all of its chips were vulnerable to the attack. The company said that through such an attack it might be possible to obtain pieces of information through sophisticated analysis.
AMD, which shares a chip architecture with Intel, issued a similar security warning that identified a number of its mobile, desktop and server chips as vulnerable to the attack. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
New Scientist also reached out to ARM, but the company did not respond to our questions about whether it was working on its own chips to avoid similar problems.
An important issue is that even if your personal hardware is not affected, you can still become a victim of the Hertzbleed hack. Thousands of servers around the world store, process and archive your information. They also run the services you use every day. Any of these may run on hardware that is vulnerable to this type of attack.
Intel says that with this attack, it could take hours to days to steal even a very small amount of data. So Hertzbleed targets email messages and the like rather than large files, and is more likely to expose small pieces of data. In this case, if that small piece of data is something like an encryption key, its impact will be significant. The researchers who discovered the flaw say on their website:Hertzbleed is a real and practical threat to the security of cryptographic software.»
How was the Hertzbleed hack discovered?
Hertzbleed was discovered by a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Washington in Seattle. They say they presented their findings to Intel in the third quarter of last year, but the company asked not to disclose them until May of this year. This is a common request that allows a company to fix a defect before it becomes public.
Intel apparently then asked for an extension until June 14, but apparently hasn’t released a fix for the issue. AMD became aware of this problem in the first quarter of this year.
Details of the vulnerability are now published in a paper on the researchers’ website and will be presented at the USENIX Security Symposium later this summer.
Can this problem be fixed?
The researchers claim on their website that neither Intel nor AMD have released any kind of security patch to fix the problem. Neither company responded to questions raised by New Scientist.
When attacks based on changes in chip speed or frequency were first discovered in the late 1990s, there was a common solution: writing code that only used “fixed-time” instructions. That is, instructions based on which data processing should be done at the same time, regardless of their nature. This prevented hackers from gaining access to the information based on which the data was read. Now Hertzbleed can nullify this old strategy and be done remotely.
Since this attack relies on normal functions and features of the computer chip and does not exploit a bug, it may not be easy to fix. The researchers say that one solution could be to globally turn off the CPU throttling feature on all chips, but they warn that doing so has a significant impact on system performance. It may not even be possible to completely stop the frequency changes on some chips.