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kernel -- information disclosure when using HTT


Problem description and impact

When running on processors supporting Hyper-Threading Technology, it is possible for a malicious thread to monitor the execution of another thread.

Information may be disclosed to local users, allowing in many cases for privilege escalation. For example, on a multi-user system, it may be possible to steal cryptographic keys used in applications such as OpenSSH or SSL-enabled web servers.

NOTE: Similar problems may exist in other simultaneous multithreading implementations, or even some systems in the absence of simultaneous multithreading. However, current research has only demonstrated this flaw in Hyper-Threading Technology, where shared memory caches are used.


Systems not using processors with Hyper-Threading Technology support are not affected by this issue. On systems which are affected, the security flaw can be eliminated by setting the "machdep.hlt_logical_cpus" tunable:

# echo "machdep.hlt_logical_cpus=1" >> /boot/loader.conf

The system must be rebooted in order for tunables to take effect.

Use of this workaround is not recommended on "dual-core" systems, as this workaround will also disable one of the processor cores.



portaudit: kernel -- information disclosure when using HTT

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If you have found a vulnerability in a FreeBSD port not listed in the database, please contact the FreeBSD Security Officer. Refer to "FreeBSD Security Information" for more information.

Oliver Eikemeier <>