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[Slashdot] - A Flaw In Millions of Apple, AMD, and Qualcomm GPUs Could Expose AI Data


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: As more companies ramp up development of artificial intelligence systems, they are increasingly turning to graphics processing unit (GPU) chips for the computing power they need to run large language models (LLMs) and to crunch data quickly at massive scale. Between video game processing and AI, demand for GPUs has never been higher, and chipmakers are rushing to bolster supply. In new findings released today, though, researchers are highlighting a vulnerability in multiple brands and models of mainstream GPUs -- including Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD chips -- that could allow an attacker to steal large quantities of data from a GPU's memory. The silicon industry has spent years refining the security of central processing units, or CPUs, so they don't leak data in memory even when they are built to optimize for speed. However, since GPUs were designed for raw graphics processing power, they haven't been architected to the same degree with data privacy as a priority. As generative AI and other machine learning applications expand the uses of these chips, though, researchers from New York -- based security firm Trail of Bits say that vulnerabilities in GPUs are an increasingly urgent concern. "There is a broader security concern about these GPUs not being as secure as they should be and leaking a significant amount of data," Heidy Khlaaf, Trail of Bits' engineering director for AI and machine learning assurance, tells WIRED. "We're looking at anywhere from 5 megabytes to 180 megabytes. In the CPU world, even a bit is too much to reveal." To exploit the vulnerability, which the researchers call LeftoverLocals, attackers would need to already have established some amount of operating system access on a target's device. Modern computers and servers are specifically designed to silo data so multiple users can share the same processing resources without being able to access each others' data. But a LeftoverLocals attack breaks down these walls. Exploiting the vulnerability would allow a hacker to exfiltrate data they shouldn't be able to access from the local memory of vulnerable GPUs, exposing whatever data happens to be there for the taking, which could include queries and responses generated by LLMs as well as the weights driving the response. In their proof of concept, as seen in the GIF below, the researchers demonstrate an attack where a target -- shown on the left -- asks the open source LLM Llama.cpp to provide details about WIRED magazine. Within seconds, the attacker's device -- shown on the right -- collects the majority of the response provided by the LLM by carrying out a LeftoverLocals attack on vulnerable GPU memory. The attack program the researchers created uses less than 10 lines of code. [...] Though exploiting the vulnerability would require some amount of existing access to targets' devices, the potential implications are significant given that it is common for highly motivated attackers to carry out hacks by chaining multiple vulnerabilities together. Furthermore, establishing "initial access" to a device is already necessary for many common types of digital attacks. The researchers did not find evidence that Nvidia, Intel, or Arm GPUs contain the LeftoverLocals vulnerability, but Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD all confirmed to WIRED that they are impacted. Here's what each of the affected companies had to say about the vulnerability, as reported by Wired: Apple: An Apple spokesperson acknowledged LeftoverLocals and noted that the company shipped fixes with its latest M3 and A17 processors, which it unveiled at the end of 2023. This means that the vulnerability is seemingly still present in millions of existing iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks that depend on previous generations of Apple silicon. On January 10, the Trail of Bits researchers retested the vulnerability on a number of Apple devices. They found that Apple's M2 MacBook Air was still vulnerable, but the iPad Air 3rd generation A12 appeared to have been patched. Qualcomm: A Qualcomm spokesperson told WIRED that the company is "in the process" of providing security updates to its customers, adding, "We encourage end users to apply security updates as they become available from their device makers." The Trail of Bits researchers say Qualcomm confirmed it has released firmware patches for the vulnerability. AMD: AMD released a security advisory on Wednesday detailing its plans to offer fixes for LeftoverLocals. The protections will be "optional mitigations" released in March. Google: For its part, Google says in a statement that it "is aware of this vulnerability impacting AMD, Apple, and Qualcomm GPUs. Google has released fixes for ChromeOS devices with impacted AMD and Qualcomm GPUs."

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