updated 02:45 pm EDT, Thu March 19, 2009
Intel SMM Security Exploit
Joanna Rutkowska of Invisible Things Lab today posted details of a security exploit that could compromise many systems using Intel processors. The techinque involves "poisoning" a given chip's cache memory and forcing access to System Management Mode (SMM), which addresses errors, power management and other features outside of normal processor use. A successful attack would let the attacker either dump the contents of RAM used for SMM so that it can be more easily compromised or else to run arbitrary code from the memory.
Intel notes that some of its platforms should already be immune against the exploit, though some relatively recent self-produced mainboards like the DQ35 still open the door to potential attacks. The company is reportedly developing fixes for at least some systems.
It's unclear whether such security breaches are applicable to any operating system, though the nature of the discovery is theoretically independent of software. More details should be available following a presentation at CanSecWest today.