Researchers decrypt Intel CPU keys for the first time

Posted on Thursday, Oct 29 2020 @ 13:07 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
For the first time ever, security researchers managed to extract a secret key that Intel uses to provide microcode updates for its processors. The news affects chips based on Intel's Goldmont architecture, which is used for Celeron, Pentium, and Atom chips. ARS Technica reports the key can be used to reverse engineer Intel's microcode updates and study the exploits they're patching. Furthermore, it could allow the execution of own microcode, but such a customized version wouldn't survive a reboot.
“At the moment, it is quite difficult to assess the security impact,” independent researcher Maxim Goryachy said in a direct message. “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.

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Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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