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The vulnerability was published earlier today by a group of researchers at the University of Cambridge, Department of Computer Science and Technology, Rice University, and SRI International. The paper presentation happened at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) in San Diego, California. It describes a set of vulnerabilities in macOS, FreeBSD, and Linux, “which notionally utilize IOMMUs to protect against DMA attackers.” The issue is related to the Direct Memory Access enabled by Thunderbolt and is not properly presented by the existing IOMMU protection system. In 2016, OS vendors added Thunderclap mitigation measures to their platforms but the measures are not 100% effective and security flaws still impact systems protected using IOMMU. While some platform such as Windows 7 doesn’t even come with IOMMU, on the OSs where it is present IOMMU is either limited (Windows 10 Enterprise), disabled out of the box. The only platform where it is enabled is macOS, but even then the users aren’t safe given that Thunderclap vulnerabilities can still circumvent it. The best way to protect is to make sure you disable all the thunderbolt ports and don’t share publicly available hardware such as chargers as they might be altered to target devices. The best practice to stay safe is to make sure you don’t leave your laptop unattended. Further details can be found on OUR FORUM.

 

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