VMware Patches for Spectre

VMSA-2018-0012 – Speculative Store Bypass – SpectreNG

Not long after the first release of Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, Google and Microsoft researchers independently reported two other variants of the modern processors bugs: a new subclass of speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities known as Speculative Store Bypass (SSB, previously known as SpectreNG – variant 4) has been assigned CVE-2018-3639; another Meltdown variation, rogue system register read (also called variant 3a) has been assigned CVE-2018-3640.

Among affected processors we find a wide range of chipsets: Intel and AMD x86, IBM POWER 8 and 9, and ARM CPUs.

Catalin Cimpanu wrote for Bleeping Computer:

Variant 3a is a variation of the Meltdown flaw, while Variant 4 is a new Spectre-like attack. The most important of these two is Variant 4. Both bugs occur for the same reason – speculative execution – a feature found in all modern CPUs that has the role of improving performance by computing operations in advance and later discarding unneeded data.

The difference is that Variant 4 affects a different part of the speculative execution process —the data inside the “store buffer” inside a CPU’s cache.

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VMware Released ESXi Patches for Spectre

VMware released patches against Spectre-2 vulnerability. In order to protect against branch target injection vulnerability (also known as Spectre-2), you need to patch the full stack, ranging from vCenter, down to ESXi and the operating system. Don’t forget to also update the firmware for your hardware.

For vCenter, VMware released few days ago the corresponding patches:

Going down to ESXi level, VMware released these patches:

  • ESXi 6.5 – ESXi650-201803401-BG and ESXi650-201803402-BG
  • ESXi 6.0 – ESXi600-201803401-BG and ESXi600-201803402-BG
  • ESXi 5.5 – ESXi550-201803401-BG and ESXi550-201803402-BG

In this article I will focus on ESXi 6.5 patches.

ESXi650-201803401-BG updates the esx-base, esx-tboot, vsan and vsanhealth VIBs. ESXi650-201803402-BG updates the cpu-microcode VIB. Both patches provide parts of the hypervisor-assisted guest mitigation of CVE-2017-5715 for guest operating systems (as described in VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2018-0004.3).

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New Security Patch – vCenter Server 6.5 U1g

VMware released today a new security patch, vCenter Server 6.5 U1g, build number 8024368. This release contains few VMware software fixes, security fixes, and third-party product fixes. The new patch can already be downloaded from My VMware portal (VMware-VCSA-all-6.5.0-8024368.iso, 3.36 GB). Patch is also available through standard online repository.

Updated packages in vCSA (Photon OS):

vCenter Server 6.5 U1g provides part of the hypervisor-assisted guest mitigation of CVE-2017-5715 for guest operating systems (Spectre-2 vulnerability). For more details on this mitigation, see VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2018-0004.3.

The patch also fixes an issue where in some cases the inclusion of an ESXi host into an empty Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC) cluster would fail even though the host met the requirements.

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New Security Patch – vCenter Server 6.5 U1f

VMware released today a new security patch, vCenter Server 6.5 U1f, build number 7801515. This release patches the vCSA operating system (Photon OS) mainly against two vulnerabilities: bounds-check bypass (Spectre-1, CVE-2017-5753) and rogue data cache load issues (Meltdown, CVE-2017-5754). As of now, there is still no patch for branch target injection vulnerability (Spectre-2, CVE-2017-5715).

The new patch can already be downloaded from My VMware portal (VMware-VCSA-all-6.5.0-7801515.iso, 3607.6 MB), but it’s not yet available on the online repository for update using management GUI or CLI. Update 16 February 2018: the patch is available on the online repository, see below for details.

Updated packages:

  • linux 4.4.110-2
  • libgcrypt 1.7.6-3
  • c-ares 1.12.0-2
  • ncurses 6.0-8
  • libtasn1 4.12-1
  • wget 1.18-3
  • procmail 3.22-4
  • rsync 3.1.2-4
  • apr 1.5.2-7

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VMware Patches for Spectre

VMware Patches for Spectre

After releasing the initial security advisory VMSA-2018-0002 to discuss Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, VMware released yesterday the second advisory on the matter – VMSA-2018-0004 – VMware vSphere, Workstation and Fusion updates add Hypervisor-Assisted Guest Remediation for speculative execution issue.

VMSA-2018-0004 – Hypervisor-Assisted Guest Remediation

Updates of vCenter Server, ESXi, Workstation and Fusion virtualize the new speculative-execution control mechanism for virtual machines. As a result, a patched guest operating system can remediate the Branch Target Injection issue (CVE identifier CVE-2017-5715). This issue may allow for information disclosure between processes within the VM.

Affected VMware products:

  • vCenter Server 5.5, 6.0, 6.5
  • ESXi 5.5, 6.0, 6.5
  • Workstation 12.x (patch planned; update to 12.5.9), 14.x (update to 14.1.1)
  • Fusion 8.x (update to 8.5.10), 10.x (update to 10.1.1)

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VMSA-2018-0002 Meltdown and Specter

VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2018-0002 – Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

Google Project Zero released yesterday information about two vulnerabilities with impact to major processors vendors: Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754 – rogue data cache load) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 – bounds check bypass & CVE-2017-5715 – branch target injection). Among other organizations, VMware released a security advisory: VMSA-2018-0002 – VMware ESXi, Workstation and Fusion updates address side-channel analysis due to speculative execution.

How to patch your vCenter / ESXi infrastructure against speculative execution vulnerabilities (Meltdown and Spectre). Products, versions, patches, order of upgrade, dependencies, warnings. VMware Patches for Spectre

Meltdown and Spectre Overview

Meltdown breaks the isolation between user applications and the operating system, and allows an application to access all system memory (this includes kernel allocated memory). Meltdown affects a range of  Intel processors.

Spectre breaks the memory isolation between different applications, and allows an application to force another application to access arbitrary portions of its memory. Spectre affects a wide range of processors: Intel, AMD, and ARM.

“Both of these vulnerabilities are hardware level vulnerabilities that exist because of a flaw in CPU architecture. They are very serious vulnerabilities because they are operating system and software independent. The long term fix for both of these issues will require that CPU makers change the way their chips work, which means redesigning and releasing new chips.” – Defiant

You can find more information on both vulnerabilities on spectreattack.com. For comprehensive technical details, you can refer to these academic papers: Meltdown and Spectre.

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