Intel processors, including Core and Xeon products, are susceptible to attacks described as Snoop-assisted L1 data sampling, a security investigator has discovered.

Described in a deep-dive report published to warn software developers, Intel said the Snoop attacks were first brought to light by a software engineer.

The attacks allow bad actors to insert malicious code after a change in the L1D cache, at which point the CPU updates all cache levels in a process known as bus snooping. The L1 data sampling technique could then trigger errors to leak data from the CPU’s inner memory.

Cybercriminal Activity at the Cache Level

On a more technical level, the Snoop attacks are taking advantage of cache coherence, which ensures that the L1D cache is using data that is consistent with whatever has been stored across L1, L2 and L3 caches, along with the RAM. This is common in many of the multi-core architectures that run within server environments today, the report noted.

Companies are able to set up virtualized IT infrastructure and cloud computing environments, in part, because of the multi-core capabilities of modern chips made by hardware developers like Intel. If malware that infects a CPU via Snoop attacks leaks data from other cores, however, a single attack could have significant consequences.

On the other hand, it’s important to recognize that Snoop attacks are largely theoretical at this point. The Intel report said that creating the real-world conditions necessary to carry out the technique would be difficult.

Unlike some of the other vulnerabilities affecting Intel processors, such as Spectre and Meltdown, Intel said a Snoop attack would be unlikely to steal much data that cybercriminals could use.

Apply the Foreshadow Patches

Fortunately, Intel said those who might be affected by the vulnerability would be able to protect themselves by applying patches released two years ago, dubbed Foreshadow (L1TF). Turning off a feature in Intel CPUs known as Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) will also make Snoop attacks harder to pull off, the company said.

Just in case, companies should also ensure they have backed up all data properly and invest in threat intelligence to stay aware of hardware vulnerabilities like L1 data sampling as they emerge.

More from

Data Privacy: How the Growing Field of Regulations Impacts Businesses

The proposed rules over artificial intelligence (AI) in the European Union (EU) are a harbinger of things to come. Data privacy laws are becoming more complex and growing in number and relevance. So, businesses that seek to become — and stay — compliant must find a solution that can do more than just respond to current challenges. Take a look at upcoming trends when it comes to data privacy regulations and how to follow them. Today's AI Solutions On April…

Why Zero Trust Works When Everything Else Doesn’t

The zero trust security model is proving to be one of the most effective cybersecurity approaches ever conceived. Zero trust — also called zero trust architecture (ZTA), zero trust network architecture (ZTNA) and perimeter-less security — takes a "default deny" security posture. All people and devices must prove explicit permission to use each network resource each time they use that resource. Using microsegmentation and least privileged access principles, zero trust not only prevents breaches but also stymies lateral movement should a breach…

5 Golden Rules of Threat Hunting

When a breach is uncovered, the operational cadence includes threat detection, quarantine and termination. While all stages can occur within the first hour of discovery, in some cases, that's already too late.Security operations center (SOC) teams monitor and hunt new threats continuously. To ward off the most advanced threats, security teams proactively hunt for ones that evade the dashboards of their security solutions.However, advanced threat actors have learned to blend in with their target's environment, remaining unnoticed for prolonged periods. Based…

Third-Party App Stores Could Be a Red Flag for iOS Security

Even Apple can’t escape change forever. The famously restrictive company will allow third-party app stores for iOS devices, along with allowing users to “sideload” software directly. Spurring the move is the European Union’s (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA), which looks to ensure open markets by reducing the ability of digital “gatekeepers” to restrict content on devices. While this is good news for app creators and end-users, there is a potential red flag: security. Here’s what the compliance-driven change means for…