SMM disabling and verification techniques

3mdeb points out that there is a patent by Intel with information focused on disabling Intel SMM.

Don’t click on this link if you’re an engineer and are not allowed to view patent information.

 

https://patents.google.com/patent/US20170168844

Intel SGX hardening patent, by Intel

PATENT ALERT. Engineers not wanting to be tainted by external patent info should not read this post. It is only the title/abstract of the patent, however.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Inventor: Volodymyr Pikhur, Atul A. Khare
Current Assignee: Intel Corp
Priority date: 2016-09-07

Non-enclave access prevention

A processing system includes an execution unit comprising a logic circuit to implement an architecturally-protected execution environment associated with a protected region in a memory, in which the execution unit is to execute application code stored in the protected region as a thread running in the architecturally-protected execution environment, determine that an access mode flag is set to a first value, detect an attempt by the thread to access data stored outside the protected region, and responsive to detecting the attempt and determining that the access mode flag is set to the first value, generate an exception.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180067873A1

LexInnova analysis on IoT patent portfolios

BusinessInsider has a story about IoT patent portfolios that is interesting, if you care about that sort of thing. The LexInnova research download requires an email to access their document. 😦

 

[…] For IoT-related patents, those that pertain to collecting and transmitting data from IoT devices are the most valuable, according to LexInnova’s analysis. Qualcomm holds a number of patents in this area for collecting and transmitting data from connected medical devices and other IoT device categories. The technologies that Qualcomm has patented in this area are used in its chipsets for connecting IoT devices to the internet over different types of networks. […]

http://www.businessinsider.com/qualcomm-has-the-most-valuable-iot-patent-portfolio-2016-5?r=UK&IR=T

http://www.lex-innova.com/resources-reports/?id=73

Firmware patents….

SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses patents. If you’re an employee at a company, ask your manager if you’re able to read this sort of information…..
.
.
.

I wonder how bad it’s going to get with firmware patents… Searching the patent databases, I find THOUSANDS with ‘firmware’, HUNDREDS with ‘UEFI’, and dozens with ‘coreboot’, and many for ACPI. For example, it appears that Microsoft has patented the ability to securely update firmware:

Microsoft: Secure Firmware Updates
US 20140068585 A1, CN 104603792 A, US 8898654 B2

This is just one example, all of the big OEMs, IHVs, and ISA vendors have patents left and right in this space. 😦

Are vendors able to build UEFI — or even coreboot — systems without lawyers from some of the big companies knocking on their door asking for royalties? Where is the firmware equivalent of the “Open Invention Network”, to help smaller vendors even use basic firmware functionality with lawyers looking to monetize everything? I wonder if the Maker movement or Open Hardware or Free Hardware is going to be able to survive this.