Re: Meltdown and spectre

  • From: Hans Forbrich <fuzzy.graybeard@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Reen, Elizabeth" <elizabeth.reen@xxxxxxxx>, "oracle-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <oracle-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2018 09:51:04 -0700

I suspect the OS manufactureres are in a position to do something about the problem.  Most people I know avoid firmware updates like the plague, and I'm not sure that a firmware update is actually going to solve the problem.  Besides, who would need to do it: chip manufacturers, bios manufacturers?

Cloud makes it worth exploiting.  But once the exploit is available, it'll likely be rolled out to all platforms with glee. No additional expense involved.


On 2018-01-08 9:32 AM, Reen, Elizabeth wrote:

True. I had just read the news accounts so I was wondering why O/S manufacturers were making the patches. Neither side is clean here, but it was not really a problem if you had control of the whole server.  It’s only really become worth exploiting in the cloud.


Elizabeth Reen
CPB Database GroupManager
718.248.9930 (Office)


*From:*oracle-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:oracle-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] *On Behalf Of *Hans Forbrich
*Sent:* Friday, January 05, 2018 6:51 PM
*To:* oracle-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
*Subject:* Re: Meltdown and spectre

On 2018-01-05 2:33 PM, Reen, Elizabeth (Redacted sender elizabeth.reen for DMARC) wrote:

    I have a background in system engineering.  I don’t get how a chip
    can be exploited.  What code can be hacked there?

For speculative execution, a command is executed that MIGHT be required.  That command might ask to move stuff into some portion of memory, or need a specific page moved in.  If that command is then rolled back, what happens to the memory that it just filled? (Hint: it's still filled in, perhaps with a password.)  Back in the day (early 90s) when this stuff was dreamt up, the idea of flushing that memory on command rollback would not have been a concern - hacking was for fun, not profit, in those days.  It's not actually the code being hacked, as much as a side effect that is not properly handled.

It wasn't just the hardware guys, either.  We s/w devs were pretty sloppy about things like end-of-arrays and random pointers in our code, and few people worried about (or even understood) what happened at the chip level.  (Remember why Java came into being?)


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