Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:18

Qualcomm admits chips vulnerable, offers no detail Featured

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American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm admits some of its processors are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre bugs but has refused to provide any clarity on exactly which products are affected.

However, since Qualcomm uses Arm CPU cores in some of its products some clarity can be gained by checking on the Arm cores which are vulnerable.

In Arm's advisory, it said that there were three main variants of the exploits:

  • Variant 1: bounds check bypass (CVE-2017-5753)
  • Variant 2: branch target injection (CVE-2017-5715)
  • Variant 3: rogue data cache load (CVE-2017-5754)

Additionally, Arm cited a fourth exploit which it called Variant 3a. The details of the Arm cores which are vulnerable are here.

Meltdown removes the barrier between user applications and sensitive parts of the operating system while Spectre can trick vulnerable applications into leaking the contents of their memory.

According to Security Week, the Snapdragon 653, 652 and 650 platforms use Arm Cortex-A72 processors. According to an Arm advisory, these are vulnerable to both Spectre exploits and a variant of the Meltdown attack.

Additionally, the Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, which Qualcomm launched recently, uses a customised version of the Cortex-A75, which is also vulnerable to both Spectre and Meltdown attacks.

A Qualcomm spokesperson provided the following statement, when asked: "Qualcomm Technologies is aware of the security research on industry-wide processor vulnerabilities that have been reported.

"Providing technologies that support robust security and privacy is a priority for Qualcomm, and as such, we have been working with ARM and others to assess impact and develop mitigations for our customers.

"We are actively incorporating and deploying mitigations against the vulnerabilities for our impacted products, and we continue to work to strengthen them as possible.

"We are in the process of deploying these mitigations to our customers and encourage people to update their devices when patches become available."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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