Author Archives: Derek Chamorro
Author Archives: Derek Chamorro
In recent years, management interfaces on servers like a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) have been the target of cyber attacks including ransomware, implants, and disruptive operations. Common BMC vulnerabilities like Pantsdown and USBAnywhere, combined with infrequent firmware updates, have left servers vulnerable.
We were recently informed from a trusted vendor of new, critical vulnerabilities in popular BMC software that we use in our fleet. Below is a summary of what was discovered, how we mitigated the impact, and how we look to prevent these types of vulnerabilities from having an impact on Cloudflare and our customers.
A baseboard management controller is a small, specialized processor used for remote monitoring and management of a host system. This processor has multiple connections to the host system, giving it the ability to monitor hardware, update BIOS firmware, power cycle the host, and many more things.
Access to the BMC can be local or, in some cases, remote. With remote vectors open, there is potential for malware to be installed on the BMC from the local host via PCI Express or the Low Pin Count (LPC) interface. With compromised software on the BMC, malware or spyware could maintain persistence on the server.
As a security company, we pride ourselves on finding innovative ways to protect our platform to, in turn, protect the data of our customers. Part of this approach is implementing progressive methods in protecting our hardware at scale. While we have blogged about how we address security threats from application to memory, the attacks on hardware, as well as firmware, have increased substantially. The data cataloged in the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) has shown the frequency of hardware and firmware-level vulnerabilities rising year after year.
Technologies like secure boot, common in desktops and laptops, have been ported over to the server industry as a method to combat firmware-level attacks and protect a device’s boot integrity. These technologies require that you create a trust ‘anchor’, an authoritative entity for which trust is assumed and not derived. A common trust anchor is the system Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware.
While this ensures that the device boots only signed firmware and operating system bootloaders, does it protect the entire boot process? What protects the BIOS/UEFI firmware from attacks?
Before we discuss how we secure our boot process, we will first Continue reading
Security is a serious business, one that we do not take lightly at Cloudflare. We have invested a lot of effort into ensuring that our services, both external and internal, are protected by meeting or exceeding industry best practices. Encryption is a huge part of our strategy as it is embedded in nearly every process we have. At Cloudflare, we encrypt data both in transit (on the network) and at rest (on the disk). Both practices address some of the most common vectors used to exfiltrate information and these measures serve to protect sensitive data from attackers but, what about data currently in use?
Can encryption or any technology eliminate all threats? No, but as Infrastructure Security, it’s our job to consider worst-case scenarios. For example, what if someone were to steal a server from one of our data centers? How can we leverage the most reliable, cutting edge, innovative technology to secure all data on that host if it were in the wrong hands? Would it be protected? And, in particular, what about the server’s RAM?
Data in random access memory (RAM) is usually stored in the clear. This can leave data vulnerable to software or hardware probing by Continue reading