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Severe Security Advisory on AMD Processors (amdflaws.com)
77 points by wila on March 13, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

Very heavy on fear and branding, light on technical detail...

Its very interesting to contrast this to the way Spectre and Meltdown were 'marketed'. They had fancy websites too, but not quite as blandly corporate sanitized as this one, and both actually focused quite a lot on the names of the security researchers who had found it, and went into details.

Whereas this is just trying to get the public to put pressure on AMD and to get corporate purses to commission CTS-Labs reports.

Will be interesting when the details become public.

"The Promontory chipset is powered by an internal microcontroller that manages the chip's various hardware peripherals. Its built-in USB controller is primarily based on ASMedia ASM1142, which in turn is based on the company's older ASM1042. In our assessment, these controllers, which are commonly found on motherboards made by Taiwanese OEMs, have sub-standard security and no mitigations against exploitation. They are plagued with security vulnerabilities in both firmware and hardware, allowing attackers to run arbitrary code inside the chip, or to re-flash the chip with persistent malware. This, in turn, could allow for firmware-based malware that has full control over the system, yet is notoriously difficult to detect or remove. Such malware could manipulate the operating system through Direct Memory Access (DMA), while remaining resilient against most endpoint security products."

So because a design was based of a design based of a design it may be vulnerable to all kinds of attacks.

Am i following these assumptions correctly?

Promontory -> ASMedia ASM1142 -> ASM1042 -> these are wrong

Not sure whether this is being hyped extra due to Intel's desire to tar and feather AMD. Certainly, the FUD around where AMD's chips are made is other-than-honest, and many parts of the paper are blatantly speculative.

One part of the paper claims that AMD's use of East Asian IP is inherently inferior and established IP-based backdoors in Ryzens. With such a bold claim, put up or shut up, please.

Nonetheless, the vulns appear real, but without PoC, all CTS has here is vapor, and they don't even have PoCs internally for all of the exploits which they claim to be documenting.

Anything that describes itself as a "severe security advisory", but doesn't come with a CVE entry up front is really shady.

There's no disclosure timeline. Was AMD ever informed of the "vulnerabilities" and if so, when, and what their responses were? Nothing suggests as such.

There's no concise explanation of the risk. What exactly is the danger here? The website only shouts in my face that everything is wrong but not how.

The name "Ryzenfall" really sounds like they came up with the name first and looked for a vulnerability second.

The phrasing of "Severe Security Advisory" is deceptive. Sounds like it's coming from AMD, it's not.

Lots of smoke, a tonne of it actually. But I don't see anything else to suggest there's actually a fire.

This site seems really scammy. Another attempt to deflate stock?


Well CTS-Labs seems to be an Israeli "cyber-security" consultancy, and I can't find more back-history than that. They do seem to have got the story into businessinsider and cnet etc already in the past hour - these are the only CTS-Labs hits I find on google.

the whois on their domain is bit weird:

Registrant Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC

It’s GoDaddy’s domain privacy.

So, the access required seems to be: 1) MASTERKEY: Reflash UEFI BIOS (local access, or defeat the specific BIOS, such as from AMI) 2) RYZENFALL: defeats a bunch of TPM and other secure boot/etc. stuff. Even in 2018 a lot of this is unused, and should never be your only security 3) FALLOUT: allows defeating some bootloader security, but isn't a big deal except on some locked down endpoints. 4) CHIMERA: some kind of chipset backdoor requiring local root. Unclear how big a deal this is due to access required.

Overall, even if these are real, they're not showstoppers. If your security depends on TPM/etc., you're screwed anyway. They do allow local malware to do worse things, and might require some mitigations in shared environments, but it's mostly stuff you should already have protected in those settings anyway.

If your security depends on a TPM you should be using a proper hardware TPM and not the fTPM running on the PSP, even my gaming-oriented Crosshair VI Hero motherboard has headers for a hardware TPM.

This is the slickest/weirdest branding for a security vulnerability that I've ever seen. There's basically zero information on the site itself except something like: "if you use AMD devices, don't use them, and AMD is incompetent", although the whitepaper has more content (which I'm now reading).

On its face I'd generally accept that the security features on AMD are bypassable, but I don't think any of the current x86 platforms are really suitable for anything except dedicated system for a given customer or security level ("system-high").

Multi-tenant/cloud are nice, convenient, and less expensive, but I'd want to depend on as few of the security features as possible.

I'm not trying to dismiss this outright, but what is this? Is this a hoax or real? Because from the name of the site to the whitepaper, it all smells rather fishy. I also read on Reddit that they only told AMD 24h before disclosure, even though all of these vulnerabilities are supposed to be "public knowledge" anyway?

> It summarizes security vulnerabilities, but purposefully does not provide a complete description of such vulnerabilities to protect users, such that a person with malicious intent could not actually exploit the vulnerabilities and try to cause harm to any user of the products described herein. Do not attempt to exploit or otherwise take advantage of the security vulnerabilities described in the White Paper.

> The report and all statements contained herein are opinions of CTS and are not statements of fact. To the best of our ability and belief, all information contained herein is accurate and reliable, and has been obtained from public sources we believe to be accurate and reliable. Our opinions are held in good faith, and we have based them upon publicly available facts and evidence collected and analyzed, which we set out in our research report to support our opinions. We conducted research and analysis based on public information in a manner that any person could have done if they had been interested in doing so

Someone shorting AMD?

Looks like it!

"Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD) shares are active as Viceroy Research has come out negative on the stock, saying it could become worthless.

Viceroy made the comments after analyzing CTS Labs' report exposing fatal security vulnerabilities across AMD products.

"Viceroy, in consultation with experts, have evaluated CTS’s report. We believe the issues identified by CTS are fatal to AMD on a commercial level, and outright dangerous at an international level," the report said.

It was added, "We believe AMD is worth $0.00 and will have no choice but to file for Chapter 11 (Bankruptcy) in order to effectively deal with the repercussions of recent discoveries."

Viceroy will discuss the short call on CNBC's Halftime Report at noon."


Is CTS connected to Viceroy?

Or trolling for class action lawsuits. A lot of the language they used seems very legalistic and would invite FTC or private action.

I think the young kids these days call it "fake news". :)

The entire website is fishy to the point that I can basically smell it.

Looks like some teenagers [1] and a PR company [2] are doing some marketing or market manipulation stunt...

Note that the site of that "Cyber Security Consultancy Firm" does not even support HTTPS. :))

[1] http://cts-labs.com/management-team [2] http://www.bevelpr.com

Screams "scareware" and "financed by Intel"...

These are interesting "security flaws," given the level of access an attacker needs to exploit these.

I wonder what (other) security professionals have to say about this white paper.

Many of these are real problems, but they are way overblown.

There's a big difference between a break and enter, and "The airbnb guest stole my lamp when he left!"

Also curious that "safefirmware.com" — where the whitepaper is hosted — doesn't seem to have any history whatsoever.

CTS will be launching a firmware security analysis service/tool for the enterprise market in the coming months this is likely a PR domain for that, and also likely the reason behind this whole "campaign".

It's similar to what Peach (Fuzzer) did after they've (co)"discovered" Heartbleed however that was handled much better.

Not a security researcher but this looks like the security leaflet I got from my (ex-)A/V vendor. Which mostly screamed "OH MY GOD MALWARZ"

There is a good number of red flags all over this site, including the non-existent disclosure timeline, I would say the chance this is for real is basically 0.

This is such a weird site.

> amdflaws.com

> This site is maintained by CTS-Labs. By accessing the contents of this website, you confirm that you have read our full disclaimer.

The white paper seems non standard too, where's the disclosure timeline, etc?

"Exploitation requires that an attacker be able to run a program with local-machine elevated administrator privileges." https://safefirmware.com/amdflaws_whitepaper.pdf

I wish Intel would invest in fixing their CPUs instead of doing this.

The PSP MIMO registers and the driver are exposed in VMs at least on the Pro/Epyc platform because the PSP is needed for SEV-KM which is used to manage the keys for memory encryption if these are sufficient this will be a big problem for cloud/vm deployments.

AMD's response (http://ir.amd.com/news-releases/news-release-details/view-ou... / http://ir.amd.com/ir-blog) :

"We have just received a report from a company called CTS Labs claiming there are potential security vulnerabilities related to certain of our processors. We are actively investigating and analyzing its 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. At AMD, security is a top priority and we are continually working to ensure the safety of our users as potential new risks arise. We will update this blog as news develops."

Dan Guido (https://twitter.com/dguido/status/973628933034991616) claims:

"Regardless of the hype around the release, the bugs are real, accurately described in their technical report (which is not public afaik), and their exploit code works."

>Media Inquiries - Jessica Schaefer, BevelPR: Jessica@bevelpr.com

I think this is self explanatory

Were they given a heads-up of 7 months ?

The vulnerabilities all sound like

> we have another instance of MS07-052: Code execution results in code execution.


It looks like they are trying to drum up business


At one point they straight up assert that Taiwanese IP is inferior.

Edit: I own amd stock, make of that what you will

This seems to be targeted at AMD's reputation primarily. Security seems to be a secondary concern.

Tweet [0] Says only 24Hrs notice given? can anyone confirm this?

[0] https://twitter.com/MalwareJake/status/973567705142853632

He appears to be trying to justify it, badly, by insinuating AMD did the same by breaking the meldown/spectre embargo. https://twitter.com/MalwareJake/status/973569779419160576

These tweets to give the impression the team behind "AMDFlaws.com" are either

A) incompetent,

B) jerks or

C) all of the above

Post Scriptum: I've archived both tweets here; https://archive.is/bqQRT https://archive.is/z1wgy

Just in case.

At least one group looks to be an attack against AMD's equivalent of Intel AMT.

The AMD PSP is akin to the Intel ME, AMT is a set of remote management tools that happens to run on the ME on supported systems - so not quite.

From discussion I'm seeing elsewebs, this is extremely suspicious.

Whois protection. Very trustworthy source... not.

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