Positive Tech at BlackHat EU: Running Unsigned Code in Intel ME

How to Hack a Turned-Off Computer, or Running Unsigned Code in Intel Management Engine

Intel Management Engine is a proprietary technology that consists of a microcontroller integrated into the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) microchip with a set of built-in peripherals. The PCH carries almost all communication between the processor and external devices; therefore Intel ME has access to almost all data on the computer, and the ability to execute third-party code allows compromising the platform completely. Researchers have been long interested in such “God mode” capabilities, but recently we have seen a surge of interest in Intel ME. One of the reasons is the transition of this subsystem to a new hardware (x86) and software (modified MINIX as an operating system) architecture. The x86 platform allows researchers to bring to bear all the power of binary code analysis tools. Unfortunately, this changing did not go without errors. In a subsystem change that will be detailed in the talk of Intel ME version 11+, a vulnerability was found. It allows an attacker of the machine to run unsigned code in PCH on any motherboard via Skylake+. The main system can remain functional, so the user may not even suspect that his or her computer now has malware resistant to reinstalling of the OS and updating BIOS. Running your own code on ME gives unlimited possibilities for researchers, because it allows exploring the system in dynamics. In our presentation, we will tell how we detected and exploited the vulnerability, and bypassed built-in protection mechanisms.


Intel ME is the new Pandora’s Box…



UEFI Firmware Rootkits: Myths and Reality: video online




Intel’s Black Hat UEFI presentation online

Vincent has a new blog post about the recent talk about UEFI security that Intel just gave at Black Hat Briefings.







CHIPSEC for ARM: to be released at Black Hat

I nearly missed this CHIPSEC announcement in the below Black Hat abstract. Exciting.

Blue Pill for Your Phone
By Oleksandr Bazhaniuk & Yuriy Bulygin

In this research, we’ve explored attack surface of hypervisors and TrustZone monitor in modern ARM based phones, using Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel as primary targets. We will explain different attack scenarios using SMC and other interfaces, as well as interaction methods between TrustZone and hypervisor privilege levels. We will explore attack vectors which could allow malicious operating system (EL1) level to escalate privileges to hypervisor (EL2) level and potentially install virtualization rootkit in the hypervisor. We will also explore attack vectors through SMC and other low level interfaces, interactions between TrustZone and hypervisor (EL2) privilege levels. To help with further low level ARM security research, we will release ARM support for CHIPSEC framework and new modules to test issues in ARM based hypervisors and TrustZone implementations, including SMC fuzzer.