There have always been concerns that governments could backdoor existing technology to spy on consumers and enterprises. Although such claims have always been considered conspiracy theories, there may be a lot more to them than originally assumed. A person claiming to work for Intel confirms there is such a thing as a backdoor in the Intel Management Engine. It’s a very problematic development, assuming there is any truth to such claims.
What is Going on With the Intel ME?
It is important to put statements like these into their proper perspective. A random person on the internet claims to have been working for Intel for at least 15 years. After getting somewhat bored with the workload, he asked to move to a different department. The company’s Management Engine team seemed like a perfect fit, and he eventually got accepted after obtaining the required security clearance.
While this may all seem a bit far-fetched, there are some aspects to this story to take into account. The person claims the security clearance was needed because there is a backdoor in the Intel Management Engine. More specifically, he claims he helped develop and integrate multiple backdoors during his three-year stint. This Management Engine is on a separate CPU of every Intel processor and cannot be disabled.
Moreover, it seems this backdoor exists on a level below the operating system. With the help of intelligence agencies, this “solution” was put in place with relative ease. Going after the hardware side of things removes the need to look for OS-based weaknesses. What makes this backdoor so intriguing is how it has full access to memory. Moreover, it can access all connected peripherals as well as the TCP/IP stack, even when the machine is hibernating.
Considering that this backdoor works regardless of the operating system being used, it is evident this is a very big problem to contend with. It is unclear for which specific purpose this backdoor may have been used in the past, although it is safe to say the total damage is impossible to grasp at this point in time.
At first, many people dismissed these comments as “bullshit”, but it turned out they were absolutely true. Last year, evidence surfaced about the Intel ME backdoor and how it could be disabled by users manually. Given the recent headlines regarding major “bugs” affecting both Intel and AMD CPUs, it is evident that these revelations back in March of 2017 were a warning that people more-than-willingly ignored.
At the same time, this revelation also confirms that federal involvement with computers and hard drives is very different from how it is portrayed to the public. There is a lot more going on with CPUs than we know about, yet we may never uncover the whole truth.