A remote hijacking flaw that lurked in Intel chips for seven years was more severe than many people imagined, because it allowed hackers to remotely gain administrative control over huge fleets of computers without entering a password. This is according to technical analyses published Friday… AMT makes it possible to log into a computer and exercise the same control enjoyed by administrators with physical access [and] was set up to require a password before it could be remotely accessed over a Web browser interface. But, remarkably, that authentication mechanism can be bypassed by entering any text string — or no text at all…

“Authentication still worked” even when the wrong hash was entered, Tenable Director of Reverse Engineering Carlos Perez wrote. “We had discovered a complete bypass of the authentication scheme.” A separate technical analysis from Embedi, the security firm Intel credited with first disclosing the vulnerability, arrived at the same conclusion… Making matters worse, unauthorized accesses typically aren’t logged by the PC because AMT has direct access to the computer’s network hardware… The packets bypass the OS completely.

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