What Is The Hertzbleed PC Attack? Your Questions Answered

Hertzbleed is the name given to a recently identified PC attack that could be used to steal information from computer chips. News of this attack rippled through the tech world, so here is everything you need to know.

What is Hertzbleed?

It is a new computer hack that uses a computer’s power-saving feature to access chips to hijack personal data. It was created in a lab but has escaped into the wild world of hacking and can potentially be used now by anybody online. 

Hertzbleed was created by a group of researchers from the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Washington in Seattle. They had allegedly made Intel aware of their plans and the results of their creation. Intel had asked the researchers to keep any and all Hertzbleed info quiet and to themselves. They did this to buy time so that they could fix the flaws surrounding the issue so that it didn’t become a threat to the public.

Most modern day computers have chips that use a highly evolved technique called dynamic frequency scaling, or CPU throttling, to increase or reduce the speed with which they carry out instructions. This helps regulate the power of the CPU to match demands which in turn makes them more efficient.

Despite this being a useful tool, it is a weak spot that hackers can access to read power signatures of a computer and learn about the data being processed. This gives a hacker an opportunity to enter the PC using the data on hand.

Hertzbleed allows a similar type of process to occur remotely by observing how quickly a computer completes certain operations. Then, it uses the information to determine how it’s currently throttling the CPU.

What’s Next> And Should We Be Concerned?

There is definitely cause for concern, so it’s best to only provides your information to trusted sites when you play live casino games or share data online. Hertzbleed can take highly sensitive information and use it to the advantage of the hacker. One major cause for alarm is that even if your personal hardware isn’t affected, you could still be affected by Hertzbleed. With the number of servers around the world that store our sensitive and personal data, it could have catastrophic effects if Hertzbleed ever successfully targeted one of these major servers.

Intel has shared that the attack could take a couple of hours to an entire day to hijack anything from small amounts of data to large quantities of personal information. It is affected by quantity though, so the larger the files, the longer it will take. So, it is more likely that Hertzbleed will steal and leak small pieces of information such as small bits of personal data or email conversations.  It is a real, and practical, threat to the security of cryptographic software especially.

The intelligence of this attack is that it uses the PC chip and not a bug. This makes it tricky to notice and even trickier to fix. One of the ways in which you can save yourself from this threat is to turn off the CPU throttling feature on all chips. This would have major effects on performance and the running of all global systems and could mitigate the chances of an attack.