ZombieLoad – A Microarchitectural Data Sampling Vulnerability

Researchers from Graz University of Technology have recently discovered a flaw in the microarchitecture of Intel’s chipset. ZombieLoad, which exploits a vulnerability in Intel’s hyperthreading technology as an attack vector, allows third party agents to execute code on your machine without your knowledge or consent.

While ZombieLoad cannot be remotely executed on your machine (meaning, the attacker must have full unadulterated access to your device), the vulnerability indicates some serious implications, considering this vulnerability has not been patched since 2011. While the researchers at Graz University may have just recently discovered it, hackers may have known about this vulnerability for a long time and kept it a well-guarded secret.

The good thing is that, for now at least, there haven’t been any large scale attacks that utilize this particular exploit. Whether that’s thanks to Intel releasing patches to manufacturers or the lack of interest from so called “black hat” hackers is all speculation. You must keep in mind that even after Intel releases patches, Windows has to push it out as well. Therefore, even if the patch is released a couple days after the discovery, it may be a week or so before the patch is available to you.

Regardless of patch availability, it’s imperative that you keep your devices updated. Set up a schedule to download and install Windows updates. Check with your software manufacturers if the software you use doesn’t automatically update. People greatly underestimate the importance of updates. If you are still running Windows XP, for example, you are subject to an astronomical variety of different exploits that hackers can use to absolutely cripple you or your business.

Even if you haven’t ever gotten a virus, been hacked, had your passwords stolen, you are still vulnerable to zero-day exploits that have never been patched. It’s important to remember that just because it hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean that it won’t. There’s a saying we have here in the field of IT – “it’s not a matter of if, but when”. No matter the precautions you take, the disaster recovery plan you formulate or how many antivirus scans you run every day – you will eventually become part of an attack surface.

If you don’t understand how to update/patch or if you have questions about security solutions – we are here to help. Here at Iler Networking & Computing, we use industry leading software across the board to provide our customers with the comfort they need delegate all of their focus on running their business, rather than worrying about intruders and data loss. If you are a business owner without a Managed Service Provider, exploring your options or are a residential consumer in search of someone to handle your IT related issues, give us a call at 440-322-4537 for a solution that fits all of your needs.