As ridiculous as it may sound, it is actually true, if not fully, partially it is legit. This is how your CPU may be spying on you. What if I told you there is a special chip in your computer that has absolute control over your entire system which is easily accessible and on top of that has a secret proprietary code that you can’t even demand to know or disable it!
Here are the two systems in your computers that you probably didn’t even hear about.
- Intel Management Engine or Intel ME
- AMD platform security processor
These two are the back doors of every single computers that have been manufactured in the past 10 years. Intel and AMD guaranteed that it is just there for security purpose and we have to take their words for it. Let’s look into a little more to what Intel has stored for us.
Intel Management Engine
Intel ME is basically an isolated standalone co-processor that is physically embedded to all your personal computers. To simplify it, you could say this is a mini computer inside a real one.
What it can do
Direct Access RAM- it has access to all your computers’ RAM, completely bypassing the main CPU
All Peripherals- It has access to everything attached to your computer.
Network Interface- It can access your network interface, descend and receive traffic.
Bypass OS- Bypass the firewall in your operating system even when your operating system isn’t running at all.
ON/OFF- Lastly, it can turn your computer on and off.
You must be thinking why does this even exist but what INTEL says in its defense is allows you or the company system administrator to remotely monitor, maintain update or repair your computer, making it useful in companies that has 1000s of computers all under a network. This saves you from updating each and every computer personally as it can be done all at once.
You may think it may be useful for companies but this is my personal computer and I want to disable it, you just can’t so don’t bother trying. You can’t buy an Intel or AMD process without this chip. AMD works in a similar way as Intel so I won’t bother to bore you about AMD!
Now Intel and AMD may not want to spy on you but a hacker can somehow decode this processor and access control over your computers without even people knowing about it because if they can’t see into the chip in the first place. Also, as it can bypass the main CPU all together, no one would be able to stop it even if they saw it coming. So, if an attacker wants to send a malicious payload even if your operating system and firewall blocks it, it can be stored in ME and overwrite the operating system. The entire concept of it is extremely deadly if fallen in wrong hands!
For a more detailed illustration, click on this link.