202029 Oct
Researchers manage to decrypt Intels secret CPU code key
General News

Researchers Maxim Gorachy, Dmitry Skkylarov and Mark Ermolov have made done something what seemed impossible, they have succeeded in decrypting Intels secret key for CPUs for the first time, allowing them, for example, to fully view the content of security patches and micro-updates. The key may also allow parties other than Intel—say a malicious hacker or a hobbyist—to update chips with their own microcode, although that customized version wouldn’t survive a reboot. “But in any case, this is the first time in the history of Intel processors when you can execute your microcode inside and analyze the updates.” Goryachy and two other researchers—Dmitry Sklyarov and Mark Ermolov, both with security firm Positive Technologies—worked jointly on the project. Five months ago, the trio was able to use the vulnerability to access “Red Unlock,” a service mode (see page 6 here) embedded into Intel chips. “For now, theres only one but very important consequence: independent analysis of a microcode patch that was impossible until now,” Positive Technologies researcher Mark Ermolov said.

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