Menu
Lenovo ThinkPwn UEFI exploit also affects products from other vendors

Lenovo ThinkPwn UEFI exploit also affects products from other vendors

The same critical vulnerability was found in the firmware of an HP laptop and several Gigabyte motherboards

A critical vulnerability that was recently found in the low-level firmware of Lenovo ThinkPad systems also reportedly exists in products from other vendors, including HP and Gigabyte Technology.

An exploit for the vulnerability was published last week and can be used to execute rogue code in the CPU's privileged SMM (System Management Mode).

This level of access can then be used to install a stealthy rootkit inside the computer's Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) -- the modern BIOS -- or to disable Windows security features such as Secure Boot, Virtual Secure Mode and Credential Guard that depend on the firmware being locked down.

The exploit, dubbed ThinkPwn, was released by a security researcher named Dmytro Oleksiuk last week without sharing it with Lenovo in advance. However, since then Oleksiuk has found the same vulnerable code inside older open source firmware for some Intel motherboards.

Lenovo said in a security advisory that the vulnerable code originated in a UEFI package provided to the company by one of its independent BIOS vendors (IBVs). These are companies that take the UEFI reference implementation and extend it, then sell the resulting package to PC manufacturers.

The fact that the vulnerability was in the UEFI implementation of an IBV made it likely that other vendors aside from Lenovo used the vulnerable firmware in their products.

This was confirmed over the weekend by a researcher named Alex James, who reported on Twitter that he found the vulnerable code inside the firmware of an HP Pavilion dv7-4087cl laptop. The firmware was supplied by Insyde Software, a Taiwanese IBV.

James later reported that the vulnerable code exists in the firmware of several motherboards made by Taiwanese computer hardware manufacturer Gigabyte Technology. The vulnerable models include Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H, Z68-UD3H, Z87MX-D3H and Z97-D3H.

Intel, HP and Gigabyte didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oleksiuk believes that the vulnerability originated in Intel's reference code for its 8-series chipsets and that it was fixed in mid-2014. However, since there were no public advisories about it, it's possible that IBVs and PC manufacturers missed the patch and continued to use an older version of the reference code as base for their UEFI.

Unfortunately, the affected products from Lenovo, HP and Gigabyte are probably just the tip of the iceberg and it will take a long time for all vendors to check their firmware and release patches. Even then, the adoption rate of BIOS/UEFI updates among users is typically low, so many systems will likely continue to remain vulnerable for years to come.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hacking

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments