The Memory Sinkhole

Author Christopher Domas
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Description In x86, beyond ring 0 lie the more privileged realms of execution, where code is invisible to AV, we have unfettered access to hardware, and can trivially preempt and modify the OS. The architecture has heaped layers upon layers of protections on these ‘negative’ rings, but 40 years of x86 evolution have left a labyrinth of forgotten backdoors into the ultra-privileged modes. Lost in this byzantine maze of decades-old architecture improvements and patches, there lies a design flaw that’s gone unnoticed for 20 years. Exploiting the vast, unexplored wasteland of forgotten x86 features, we demonstrate how to jump malicious code from ring 0 into the deepest, darkest realms of the processor. The attack is performed with an architectural 0-day built into the silicon itself, and directed against a uniquely vulnerable string of code widely deployed on modern systems.
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Date Thursday 20 August 2015 - 10:36:23
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