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January 8, 2018

Validating Against Meltdown and Spectre

Categories: Blog, Scenarios

Two automated test scenarios provide security teams with the insight to determine if their systems can stop or detect the Meltdown and Spectre attack vectors.


AttackIQ announced it has developed automated system test scenarios that can validate if infrastructure is susceptible to the Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

Created at the same time, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks are two separate exploits that stem from a fundamental chip flaw enabling attackers to access critical data on users’ computers. The vulnerability affects the entire technology stack of a given system, from the processor to the browser passing through the operating system.

Specifically, the Meltdown attack breaks user and system memory isolation enabling a user process to access kernel memory. The Spectre attack can force a bug-free application to leak arbitrary memory contents from its address space. Both exploits, which affect Intel, AMD and ARM chips, give attackers the ability to compromise countless user devices ranging from phones and tablets to laptops and TVs.

To address both threats, AttackIQ created multiple tests to exercise systems in a production environment.  The first scenario executes a Spectre proof-of-concept attack emulating the methods that an attacker might use to extract data from memory.  Specific data is staged in memory, then extraction is attempted using the speculative execution methods.  Extracted data is compared to the staged data and a sufficient match validates the flaw is present and exploitable.  


Below you can see the output from each of the tests on unpatched systems: 



Additional scenarios check for the presence of patches for either Spectre or Meltdown, reporting systems that lack applicable patches.


Spectre and Meltdown Scenario 3


Both scenarios are part of our FireDrill™ platform and ready to be used by our customers.  Feel free to download a free two week trial to see how our platform can help you to address both historical and emergent threats.


About the Author

 Senior Director, Sales Engineering at AttackIQ