Foreshadow is a new speculative execution exploit targeting Intel's SGX on Core chips

You should be protected from L1TF if your PC is patched and up to date.

Move over, Meltdown and Spectre. A new “Foreshadow” attack, alternatively called L1 Terminal Fault or L1TF, targets Intel’s Security Guard Extensions (SGX) within its Core chips.

You should be safe, though, if you’ve already patched your PC as part of the earlier Spectre and Meltdown mitigations that rolled out over the course of the year, according to a blog post from Intel, which disclosed the flaw today. (Wired has more of the technical backstory on the bug itself, and Intel has published a video explaining the issue.) Microsoft is also rolling out patches, Intel said.

Security Guard Extensions, or SGX, were originally designed to protect code from disclosure or modification, according to Intel. It’s a feature that’s included in 7th-generation Core chips and above, as well as the corresponding Xeon generation. According to Intel,  it “remains protected even when the BIOS, VMM, operating system, and drivers are compromised, implying that an attacker with full execution control over the platform can be kept at bay.”

That apparently isn’t totally the case. Wired hypothesized that the Foreshadow bug could break down the walls between virtual machines, a real concern for cloud companies whose services share space with other theoretically isolated processes.

Intel says the L1TF bug, in addition to being addressed by software mitigations, is also being patched at the hardware level with Cascade Lake, an upcoming Xeon chip, as well as future Intel processors expected to launch later this year.

Like Spectre and Meltdown, though, Intel said there’s been no real-world cases of PCs being affected by the bug. In an interesting twist, Intel is working with cloud providers—where uptime and performance is key—to “detect L1TF-based exploits during system operation, applying mitigation only when necessary,” Leslie Culbertson, executive vice president and general manager of Product Assurance and Security at Intel, wrote.

What this means for you: Patch, patch, patch. As Wired notes, calling the vulnerability “Foreshadow” may be correct, as there have been a number of attacks on Intel’s Core chips—and AMD chips, too—that take advantage of speculative execution.  As long as you’re patched up, you should be okay. Check out PCWorld’s guide on how to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre for the full details.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?