Windows 7 vulnerable to memory attack

Windows 7 is vulnerable to a memory attack that could allow others to gain complete access to your system, according to new research reported by ZDNet.

Christophe Devine and Damien Aumaitre are not your average hackers. They’re researchers working for the European Security Expertise Centre and are planning to give a presentation on the Windows 7 vulnerability called Subverting Windows 7 x64 Kernel with DMA Attacks at the Hack in a Box conference between 29 June and 2 July.

They will show how an attack using Direct Memory Access (DMA) allows hackers to completely bypass the operating system and CPU, eliminating all of the security features present within both. This does require physical access to the computer, however, which limits the amount of attacks that occur in this fashion, but the vulnerability is still worrying.

Currently the researchers are focusing on the 64-bit version of Windows 7 for their report, so it’s unclear if those using the 32-bit version are as equally vulnerable. We imagine that they are and that the findings from the new research will also apply to 32-bit systems.

Windows XP and older versions of the Mac OS X were attacked using this same method, but the researchers had to completely rewrite their DMA engine to allow it to bypass the security features in Windows 7. Their attack uses the PCMCIA port, while other DMA attacks have been shown using the CardBus port.

In May a couple of professors at the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington demonstrated how to hack into a car’s computer system and stop the brakes. Hackers everywhere are probably eager to enroll in those colleges.

Another researcher, Niels Teusink, will present a demonstration at Hack in the Box of how to remotely hack the wireless devices of people giving presentations with parts costing only €40. Steve Jobs was given as an example and the words “public humiliation” also featured, presenting some interesting possibilities for the next Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.