Nmedia - Fotolia
Intel warned of a firmware vulnerability in its Active Management Technology, or AMT, that could allow an attacker to gain access to PCs or devices. How can this happen? Can the firmware be updated?
Intel's Active Management Technology is included in Intel Xeon processors in nonconsumer workstations and servers running Windows and Linux operating systems. It is a component of the Management Engine (ME) firmware that enables management and security features, including firewalls, Active Directory, logging and intrusion detection. The ME can be active even while the server is powered off.
In February 2017, Maksim Malyutin, a researcher at Embedi, disclosed a firmware vulnerability in Intel AMT. Malyutin was able to bypass authentication to gain control of a remote PC. On March 3, 2017, Intel published its advisory about the flaw. The vulnerability ran as a backdoor silently for nine years until Intel received the report from Embedi.
According to a vulnerability note from the CERT Division of Carnegie Mellon University, Intel AMT listens for remote commands on several known ports, including ports 16992 and 16993 Intel scans. Other ports that may be used by Intel AMT include 16994 and 16995, 623 and 664. Cloud server hardware often has AMT enabled. An attacker can gain control of every virtual machine, container and database running on the physical server. Some firewalls and security appliances have open Intel AMT ports.
Fujitsu has published a patched version of the firmware for certain models. Until other vendors publish firmware patches, here are some tips to mitigate the vulnerability:
- Disable Intel AMT on critical servers, such as firewalls, security servers and Active Directory.
- Block ports 16992 through 16995, 623 and 624 in internal firewalls. The last port is Crypto Admin; others are AMT-related.
- Work with an open source detection tool for Linux.
- Use netstat -an to check for listening ports.
Ask the Expert:
Want to ask Judith Myerson a question about security? Submit your question now via email. (All questions are anonymous.)
Learn how IoT challenges firmware developers
Read about the increase in security issues for enterprises because of firmware
Find out how firmware created a backdoor in certain Android devices
Dig Deeper on Network device security: Appliances, firewalls and switches
Related Q&A from Judith Myerson
The Constrained Application Protocol underpins IoT networks. But the protocol could allow a threat actor to launch an attack. Continue Reading
Dutch researchers discovered flaws in ATA security and TCG Opal affecting self-encrypting drives. What steps can you take to guard data stored on ... Continue Reading
The Signal Desktop application was found to be making decryption keys available in plaintext. Learn how the SQLite database and plaintext passwords ... Continue Reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.