Video: Why microprocessor systems’ architecture needs to go open-source

A security vulnerability in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) remote access monitoring and maintenance platform could allow attackers to bypass logins and place a backdoor on a laptop, enabling remote access and operation of the machine.

Intel AMT is commonly found on computers with Intel vPro-enabled processors as well as systems based on some Intel Xeon processors.

Details of the vulnerability — which can lead to a clean device being compromised in under a minute and can bypass the BIOS password, TPM Pin, BitLocker and login credentials — have been outlined by researchers at F-Secure.

“The attack is almost deceptively simple to enact, but it has incredible destructive potential. In practice, it can give a local attacker complete control over an individual’s work laptop, despite even the most extensive security measures,” said Harry Sintonen, senior security consultant at F-Secure.

This vulnerability is unrelated to the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws found to be embedded in the fundamental design of processors and which are thought to exist in some form in most Intel CPUs since 1995.

The AMT attack requires physical access to the machine, but the speed at which it can be carried out makes it easily exploitable if the laptop is left unattended.

Attackers with physical access to machines that use Intel’s AMT can compromise them in under a minute.

Image: iStock