TA18-004A: Meltdown and Spectre Side-Channel Vulnerability Guidance

Original release date: January 04, 2018

Systems Affected

CPU hardware implementations

Overview

On January 3, 2018, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) became aware of a set of security vulnerabilities—known as Meltdown and Spectre— that affect modern computer processors. Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information.

Description

CPU hardware implementations are vulnerable to side-channel attacks referred to as Meltdown and Spectre. These attacks are described in detail by CERT/CC’s Vulnerability Note VU#584653, the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre’s guidance on Meltdown and Spectre, Google Project Zero, and the Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications (IAIK) at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). The Linux kernel mitigations for this vulnerability are referred to as KAISER, and subsequently KPTI, which aim to improve separation of kernel and user memory pages.

Intel and Linux have developed tools to detect and mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in Windows and Linux. See INTEL-SA-00075 Detection and Mitigation Tool (Windows) and INTEL-SA-00075 Linux Detection and Mitigation Tools (Linux) for further information.

Impact

Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information.

Solution

US-CERT encourages users and administrators to refer to their OS vendors for the most recent information. However, the table provided below lists available patches. Due to the fact that the vulnerability exists in CPU architecture rather than in software, patching may not fully address these vulnerabilities in all cases.

After patching, performance may be diminished by up to 30 percent. Administrators should ensure that performance is monitored for critical applications and services, and work with their vendor(s) and service provider(s) to mitigate the effect if possible.

Additionally, impacts to availability in some cloud service providers (CSPs) have been reported as a result of patches to host OSes. Users and administrators who rely on cloud infrastructure should work with their CSP to mitigate and resolve any impacts resulting from host OS patching and mandatory rebooting.

The following table contains links to patch information published in response to the vulnerabilities.

Link to Vendor Patch Information Date Added
Amazon January 4, 2018
AMD January 4, 2018
Android January 4, 2018
ARM January 4, 2018
CentOS January 4, 2018
Chromium January 4, 2018
Citrix January 4, 2018
F5 January 4, 2018
Google January 4, 2018
Huawei January 4, 2018
IBM January 4, 2018
Intel January 4, 2018
Lenovo January 4, 2018
Linux January 4, 2018
Microsoft Azure January 4, 2018
Microsoft Windows January 4, 2018
NVIDIA January 4, 2018
OpenSuSE January 4, 2018
Red Hat January 4, 2018
SuSE January 4, 2018
Trend Micro January 4, 2018
VMware January 4, 2018
Xen January 4, 2018

 

References

Revision History

  • January 4, 2018

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