Re: https://firmwaresecurity.com/2018/01/17/yuriy-working-on-new-hipsec-spectre-test/



Yuriy working on new CHIPSEC Spectre test

Nice to see some recent CHIPSEC activity, given all the recent related CVEs…
…But this is not from the CHIPSEC team, it is from ex-CHIPSEC team member Yuriy of Eclypsium.

Added new module checking for Spectre variant 2
The module checks if system is affected by Speculative Execution Side Channel vulnerabilities. Specifically, the module verifies that the system supports hardware mitigations for Branch Target Injection a.k.a. Spectre Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715)

See source comments for more info.




Resolvit seeks CHIPSEC-savvy Pentester

It is still rare enough to see “CHIPSEC” in a job posting, that I still point them out.

Given job posting is a pentest role, this is also a ‘leading indicator’ that pentesters are starting to attack your firmware. 🙂

Penetration Tester – Product
Join Resolvit as a Penetration Tester and be part of a creative, forward-thinking team. Our success at deploying skilled, highly knowledgeable experts has landed us on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies four times – and we’re just getting started. As the Penetration Tester, you will configure security test targets such as servers, storage, and networking environments; perform product security assessments; create assessment reports; and work with global product teams to review assessment results.[…]
Experience with multiple of these security assessment tools: AppAudit, Arachni, Burp Suite Pro, CHIPSEC, nmap, Nessus, Protecode SC, and Metasploit



Brian: Using CHIPSEC Whitelists to Improve Firmware Security

[Strange, I was doing the previous blog post on Brian, and during that time, he did a new blog post…]

Brian Richardson of Intel has a new blog post on using CHIPSEC whitelist command to help with UEFI security:

Using Whitelists to Improve Firmware Security

Firmware has become more popular in the world of computer security research. Attacks operating at the firmware level can be difficult to discover, and have the potential to persist even in bare-metal recovery scenarios. This type of hack has been well documented by investigations of the HackingTeam and Vault7 exploits. Fortunately, there are methods for detecting and defending against such attacks. Firmware-based attacks typically attempt to add or modify system firmware modules stored in NVRAM. Tools provided by the open source CHIPSEC project can be used to generate and verify hashes of these modules, so users can detect unauthorized changes.[…]


CHIPSEC in Ubuntu Linux


Embedi SMM_USBRT_POC: CVE-2017-5721 UsbRt SMM EoP

CVE-2017-5721 Proof-of-Concept

UsbRt SMM Privilege Elevation

This is a Proof-of-Concept code that demonstrates the exploitation of the CVE-2017-5721 vulnerability. This PoC causes a system to be completely stuck because of Machine Check Exception occurred.

All you need is CHIPSEC Framework installed. And don’t forget to put GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash acpi=off” in /etc/default/grub if you have Intel device.



Purism replies on CHIPSEC failures, adds TPM add-on, starts Heads work

Re: https://firmwaresecurity.com/2017/11/15/purism-librem15-fails-chipsec-security-tests/

Purism responds to the CHIPSEC failures here:


They also point out in that forum, and here:


that Purism is getting ready to start using Heads payload. They’ve been talking about it for months, maybe it’ll be a real option for upcoming Librem customers? I’m very excited to see a Heads system available by an OEM, instead of DIY and not an easy task.

And they’re adding a TPM as an ‘add-on’ to existing Librem laptops. Heads needs TPM for it’s measurements. (Hmm, I thought TPMs were an integral and tamper-resistant part of the system, and something that could be added on for trust was called a smartcard, but ok. I guess you have to solder the HW to the system. I presume attackers will be ordering spare add-ons so they can swap out units.)

In the above Purism forum, there was this user comment:

“I like the idea of putting a demo Librem notebook to a BlackHat conf where they try to break into the devices. Would be a nice test and a good commercial for you.”

They cannot do that with current Librem models. 🙂 This will need to wait for TPMs to be pre-installed and Heads as the payload.

This response from the above Purism forum seems a bit invalid:

“So there’s no way to access a BIOS menu to change the boot sequence (boot from USB) or set a machine password etc?”

“No, there is no such thing. The BIOS boots into your machine in roughly 450 milliseconds, there is no support for a menu, there is no time even for the user to press a key on the keyboard to enter a menu. The idea of coreboot is to do the minimum hardware initialization and then go to a payload. In our case, we use SeaBIOS which itself will initialize the video card and show the splash screen logo, and wait for 2 seconds for you to press ESC to show you the boot menu and let you choose your device (otherwise, it just boots to the default one). The boot choice isn’t saved, it’s just a boot override. If you want to change an option in coreboot, you need to change the config in the source and recompile coreboot then reflash it. If you want to change the boot order, you need to change the boot order in a file embeded in the flash, then reflash the BIOS.”

Yes, there is thing, which the reply says does not exist then a few sentences later explains that it does exist. The BIOS menu to change the boot order is available to anyone with physical access to the system, and presses the ESC key within 2 seconds of poweron. The unprotected BIOS and MBR-based hard drive can be quickly overwritten with malware on the attacker’s boot thumbdrive. Attendees of ‘a BlackHat conf’ will have such skills. 🙂

Purism is spending all their time undoing Intel’s features — Intel ME, Intel FSP, and now re-embracing older features — Intel TPM. Intel SMM is still an issue, STM is not being used by Purism. Intel ME may be disabled, but it’s a black-box device, who knows when attackers will start reactivating it and putting their malware-based version of Minix on that chip? You’re going to need tools to detect if ME is really disabled. I hope Purism’s roadmap has a RISC-V chip-based laptop in it, so they can stop fighting Intel features and have a fully-open stack. If they keep fighting the Intel stack, I hope they add the ‘stateless laptop’ that Joanna has proposed to their roadmap:


It might be useful to add coreboot Verified Boot to help secure their SeaBIOS payload, but that could probably only secure PureOS, and distro hoppers will have no benefit. But I don’t think Heads and Verified Boot are compatible? SeaBIOS also has TPM support, that’d be nice to see those measurements used, if they are embracing a TPM. And now that they have a TPM, they can start using Intel TXT too. 🙂

I am a little perplexed about Purims customer audience, who is concerned about privacy, and yet has so little concern for security, in exchange for the convenience feature of being easy to distro-hop. Anyway, if you want security, wait for the TPM and Heads to be integrated with future Librems.



Purism Librem15 fails CHIPSEC security tests

Current Purism Librem15 systems — based on Intel x64/coreboot/SeaBIOS tech — results in 3 FAILs and 1 WARNING from CHIPSEC:

The UEFI Forum recommends that OEMs pass CHIPSEC’s tests before shipping units to customers. I wish modern BIOS-based OEMs would also heed that advice… The default install is to use an MBR-based partition, so also be wary of all of the existing BIOS-centric, MBR-based rootkits. Adhere all ‘evil maid’ warning signs with this laptop. If you have corporate policies that require NIST 800-147/155/193 requirements, you might have to work hard to justify this device. I wish it were not true: configurable or secure, choose one.

In other computer review news: the trackpad did not work during initial install, had to be rebooted. I’m guessing trackpad drivers aren’t integrated? You’ll have to use external mouse if you need to click on something during install of Linux. Same with backlit key and display intensity features: only worked after OS setup. Firmware security pedantry aside, nice hardware. Fan rarely kicks in, unlike some OEMs. It is nice to see a Mac-style trackpad instead of a PC-style touchpad with 2 explicit button areas, I’ve grown to dislike those. Startup and poweroff are both very fast. Reminds me of what a modern non-UEFI system should be like. Great, except we’re no longer in a world where security can be ignored. If you want an insecure BIOS box, you’ll probably enjoy this system. If you care about security, this is a BIOS box….