Not The NetCAT You Think It Is

Source: The Register Not The NetCAT You Think It Is

Poorly Named And Hard To Exploit

When naming new vulnerabilities, you should probably check to see if the fancy moniker you planning to use might already be in use by a well known utility.  Network techs are already very familiar with nc [options] [host] [port] commands utilized by Netcat, the handy networking utility which allows you to track, move or even encrypt network traffic. 

Why a security researcher would use that name for a newly discovered caching vulnerability on Intel chipsets is unknown, but here we are.  The Register describes the attack is similar to Throwhammer, in that an attacker makes use of the vulnerability to fill one of the caches on a processor. A Netcat attack fills a cache with network packets and then watches as those packets are pushed out by a users manual input.  In theory this could allow you to infer what keys were pressed, assuming you have a rough idea how that user generally types. 

The vulnerability requires you to guess the password based on keystroke patterns as you are not intercepting the data, just the typing patterns, but you also need direct access to the server via Intel’s Data Direct I/O.  You should not lose too much sleep over this particular vulnerability; there are far worse ones out there to worry about already.

It is possible to discern someone's SSH password as they type it into a terminal over the network by exploiting an interesting side-channel vulnerability in Intel's networking technology, say infosec gurus.

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About The Author

Jeremy Hellstrom

Call it,, or PC Perspective, Jeremy has been hanging out and then working with the gang here for years. Apart from the front page you might find him on the BOINC Forums or possibly the Fraggin' Frogs if he has the time.

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