UPDATED: Kernel Memory Issue - Spectre and Meltdown
Posted by Christian Derrington on 05 January 2018 11:22 AM
In response to the global Kernel Memory Leakage vulnerability issues that have circulated throughout the last week, we have worked closely with our hardware and operating system vendors to initiate remedial actions.
As there is no single fix to cover all the variants of Meltdown and Spectre, we are completing our patching in a phased approach, as outlined below.
Operating System Patches
Vendors have started to classify the risk impact on their products and are slowly releasing patches remediating some of the vulnerabilities. We will be patching our virtualisation environment with the recommended baseline versions for protection. Once the final fixes are made available, we will be deploying them accordingly.
If you see browser updates, we strongly recommend that you run these and as per usual, we strongly recommend checking, and applying operating system security updates as they become available.
Browser patch references from respective software houses are below:
Firefox statement release to media: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/security/advisories/mfsa2018-01/
Google chrome statement release: https://www.chromium.org/Home/chromium-security/ssca
Opera browser statement release: https://blogs.opera.com/security/2018/01/opera-mitigates-critical-cpu-vulnerabilities/
Microsoft Edge / Internet Explorer: Patches were made available Wednesday last week, but automatic updates will run from next patch cycle. (Wednesday 10th Jan NZ time).
You may be aware of the global Kernel Memory Leakage issue relating to CPU vendors which was announced to the public yesterday by international media.
We have outlined all you need to know below and are actively working with our hardware vendors and operating system vendors to assess impact and remedial action.
We will be updating you as further information becomes available via this Status Page however, please be assured that we are doing everything possible to remediate any potential impacts immediately.
What is the issue?
On Jan 4th, it was announced in the media (theregister.co.uk) that numerous industry wide vulnerabilities in Intel, ARM and AMD (alleged) CPU's had been identified in relationship to Kernel Memory Leakage, known as Meltdown and Spectre. These vulnerabilities impact all compute running Windows, Linux, macOS (including server OS) and operating systems will require a patch to resolve the vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities allow for side channel exploits in rogue malicious applications to be able to read data stored on a computers system memory. It is yet unknown the impact of the operating systems patch on operating system performance, however we will continue to monitor our platforms and make the necessary adjustments where needed.
Am I affected by the vulnerability?
Yes. This is a global issue with CPU chip sets. The full extent of the impact is yet to be established and we will communicate further as more information is received. Right now, we are doing everything possible by working with our vendors to rectify and remedy the known vulnerabilities.
What could be leaked?
If your system is affected by a malicious application, an exploit could read the memory content of the host server. This may include passwords and sensitive data stored on the system.
An attacker able to execute code with user privileges, can gain access to data in memory space, thus bypassing KASLR: (kernel address space layout randomization). This is a defence mechanism used by various operating systems to place components of the kernel in randomized locations in virtual memory.
Which systems are affected?
Desktop, Laptop, and Cloud computers may be affected by Meltdown/Spectre. More technically, every Intel (and potentially ARM and AMD) processor which implements out-of-order execution is potentially affected, which is effectively every processor since 1995 (except Intel Itanium and Intel Atom before 2013).
What is the difference between Meltdown and Spectre?
Meltdown breaks the mechanism that keeps applications from accessing arbitrary system memory. Consequently, applications can access system memory. Spectre tricks other applications into accessing arbitrary locations in their memory. Both attacks use side channels to obtain the information from the accessed memory location. For a more technical discussion we refer to the papers (Meltdown and Spectre).
Is there more technical information about Meltdown and Spectre?