Computer Crime Research Center


Virus attacks CPUs

Date: August 29, 2006

A new proof-of-concept virus recently submitted to Symantec demonstrates that a virus targeted at a certain architectural flaw in most modern CPUs could take almost complete, low-level control of a system.

It can bypass authentication measures without detection, all while stealthily proliferating itself throughout the infected system.

Did you hear that? It was as if a thousand evil code monkeys excitedly clamored very loudly on their keyboards.

What’s worse (or more exciting, depending on your inclination) is that this is not a niche flaw, as it reportedly extends out to both Intel and AMD processors, although we have not yet been made aware of which ones are affected.

Generally due to their ease of creation and propagation, viruses targeted directly at popular operating systems, such as Windows, are predominant. This is quite unlike those targeted specifically at certain chip architectures where flaws in a CPU are the goal. As a result, these don’t come by all that often. Because the virus is a proof-of-concept, Symantec has labeled this as low risk.
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