Intel CPUs affected by ZombieLoadv2

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ZombieLoadv2 or TSX AsynchronousAbort (TAA) vulnerabilities targeting Intel CPUs that support TSX feature being disclosed.

ZombieLoad was discovered and reported by Michael Schwarz, Moritz Lipp and Daniel Gruss.

ZombieLoad is one of the Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) speculative execution vulnerabilities that affect Intel processor generations released from 2011 onwards.

Vulnerabilities that affected Intel CPUs known as Microarchitectural Data Structures (MDS) attacks, these are security flaws in the same as Meltdown, Spectre and Foreshadow. As MDS attacked different areas of CPU’s speculative execution process, they are different from the original Meltdown, Spectre and Foreshadow hugs disclosed. These micro architectural data structures included the load, store and line fill buffers, which the CPU uses for fast read/writes inside the CPU.

Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX)

Intel’s Transactional Synchronization Extensions adds hardware transactional memory support, speeding up the execution of multi-threaded software through lock emission.

What is ZombieLoadv2 and how it works?

ZombieLoadv2 resides in Intel’s Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX). ZombieLoadv2 referred to as “Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) Asynchronous Abort(TAA)” assigned CVE-2019-11135. This becomes vulnerable when the data currently being stored or executed on the CPU become readable to foreign entities and create a conflict between read operations inside a CPU. This operation leaks data about what is being processed inside an Intel CPU.

“The main advantage of this approach is that it also works on machines with hardware fixes for Meltdown, which we verified on an i9-99ooK and Xeon Gold 5218,” the research team explained in the revised version of their whitepaper.

ZombieLoadv2 affects CPUs that support TSX including laptops, desktops and cloud computers running Intel CPUs sold since 2013, including Core, Xeon processors and Intel’s Cascade Lake line that was released in April 2019. 

Intel’s Whisky Lake, Coffee Lake-R and Cascade Lake-SP lines of processors are not vulnerable as they do not support  TSX.

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