Hijacking flaw that lurked in Intel chips is worse than anyone thought

A remote hijacking flaw that has been hiding inside Intel chips for 7 years was more severe than many people imagined. It allowed hackers to remotely gain admin control over huge numbers of computers without entering a password. This is according to technical analyses published Friday.

The authentication bypass vulnerability resides in a feature known as Active Management Technology. AMT allows system administrators to perform a variety of powerful tasks over a remote connection. Some of the things a remote admin can do are: changing the code that boots up computers, accessing the computer’s mouse, keyboard, and monitor, loading and executing programs, and remotely powering on computers that are turned off. AMT makes it possible to log into a computer and control it just the same as an admin with physical access.

Intel officials said they expect PC makers to release a patch next week. The releases will update Intel firmware, meaning patching will require that each vulnerable chip set is reflashed. In the meantime, Intel is urging customers to download and run this discovery tool to diagnose potentially vulnerable computers. Systems that test positive should be temporarily secured using this mitigation guide until a patch is supplied. Computer makers Fujitsu, HP, and Lenovo, have also issued advisories for specific models they sell.

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