The short version is that every Intel platform with AMT, ISM, and SBT from Nehalem in 2008 to Kaby Lake in 2017 has a remotely exploitable security hole in the ME (Management Engine) not CPU firmware. If this isn’t scary enough news, even if your machine doesn’t have SMT, ISM, or SBT provisioned, it is still vulnerable, just not over the network. For the moment. From what SemiAccurate gathers, there is literally no Intel box made in the last 9+ years that isn’t at risk. This is somewhere between nightmarish and apocalyptic.
First a little bit of background. SemiAccurate has known about this vulnerability for literally years now, it came up in research we were doing on hardware backdoors over five years ago. What we found was scary on a level that literally kept us up at night. For obvious reasons we couldn’t publish what we found out but we took every opportunity to beg anyone who could even tangentially influence the right people to do something about this security problem. SemiAccurate explained the problem to literally dozens of “right people” to seemingly no avail. We also strongly hinted that it existed at every chance we had.
Various Intel representatives over the years took my words seriously, told me I was crazy, denied that the problem could exist, and even gave SemiAccurate rather farcical technical reasons why their position wasn’t wrong. Or dangerous. In return we smiled politely, argued technically, and sometimes, usually actually, were not so polite about our viewpoint. Unfortunately it all seems to have been for naught.
The problem is quite simple, the ME controls the network ports and has DMA access to the system. It can arbitrarily read and write to any memory or storage on the system, can bypass disk encryption once it is unlocked (and possibly if it has not, SemiAccurate hasn’t been able to 100% verify this capability yet), read and write to the screen, and do all of this completely unlogged. Due to the network access abilities, it can also send whatever it finds out to wherever it wants, encrypted or not.
You can download a detector here from Intel