Crypto Keys Under Threat as Academic Releases Document on Intel SGX Vulnerability
A bug identified in Intel’s Software Guard eXtensions (SGX) permits passwords, encoded keys and other confidential info to be moved from memory of a computer.
Yesterday, computer scientist Daniel Gruss, through a YouTube video, explained how the proof-of-concept attack, also referred to as a “Load Value Injection [LVI],” can be utilized to loot privileged info, including coded keys for wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges, from Intel SGXs.
The attack is serious as SGX processors are structured to offer safe storage of confidential info inside a system’s memory, even if an illegal software running behind.
The LVI operates by forcing a susceptible system to process a script that could be held on a vicious website or app and unfold a side-channel incursion geared towards the SGX.
Once jeopardized, the attacker can gain control over encrypted keys saved with in the SGX. Gruss explains:
“In a meltdown-type attack, the attacker deliberately tries to load secret data — causing the processor to cancel and reissue the load. The canceled load keeps on running for a short time — long enough for an attacker to perform operations on the secret data.”
LVI incursions were initially identified by Jo Van Bulk last April. Yesterday, he released a research paper explaining the attack, with inputs from Daniel Gruss and eight more academics.
The document explains LVI incursions as a reverse Meltdown attack, with the academics pointing that while LVI is mainly geared towards Intel CPUs, other ICs that are susceptible to Meltdown can also be exploited in the same manner.
Nevertheless, the academics infer that there is little probability of using LVI incursion technique to misuse consumer systems, underlining the complex process of executing LVI and the existence of other simpler strategies to jeopardize computer systems used by individuals.
The incursion must happen when the harmful code is executed, further decreasing the probability of using the LVI breach strategy on consumer systems. In response to the published document, Intel has released a list giving details of its processors that are susceptible to LVI, indicating that all Intel ICs with hardware upgraded to prevent Meltdown are in no danger.
“Researchers have identified a new mechanism referred to as Load Value Injection (LVI). Due to the numerous complex requirements that must be satisfied to successfully carry out, Intel does not believe LVI is a practical method in real-world environments where the OS and VMM are trusted.”