Session
Fahrplan - Hauptprogramm 36C3
Security

Intel Management Engine deep dive

Understanding the ME at the OS and hardware level
Borg
Peter Bosch
Reverse engineering a system on a chip from sparse documentation and binaries, developing an emulator from it and gathering the knowledge needed to develop a replacement for one of the more controversial binary blobs in the modern PC.

The Intel Management Engine, a secondary computer system embedded in modern chipsets, has long been considered a security risk because of its black-box nature and high privileges within the system. The last few years have seen increasing amounts of research into the ME and several vulnerabilities have been found.

Although limited details were published about these vulnerabilities, reproducing exploits has been hard because of the limited information available on the platform.

The ME firmware is the root of trust for the fTPM, Intel Boot Guard and several other platform security features, controlling it allows overriding manufacturer firmware signing, and allows implementing many background management features.

I have spent most of past year reverse engineering the OS, hardware and links to the host (main CPU) system. This research has led me to create custom tools for manipulating firmware images, to write an emulator for running ME firmware modules under controlled circumstances and allowed me to replicate an unpublished exploit to gain code execution.

In this talk I will share the knowledge I have gathered so far, document my methods and also explain how to go about a similar project.

I also plan to discuss the possibility of an open source replacement firmware for the Management Engine.

The information in this talk covers ME version 11.x, which is found in 6th and 7th generation chipsets (Skylake/Kabylake era), most of the hardware related information is also relevant for newer chipsets.

Additional information

Type lecture
Language English

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