Apparently, there's a new speculative execution exploit in town on Intel CPUs: SWAPGS. It takes research on Meltdown and Spectre to the next level and targets the root of the CPU.

This is not the first SE exploit, and probably won't be the last. But how does this one manage to evade all the patches developed for the other recent exploits? Or, put more simply, how is this one different? They patched the previous ones after all. Just because it's a different instruction, it works again?

Obligatory XKCD: #1938 Meltdown and Spectre

Please keep the answers (relatively) simple.

1 Answer 1


The issue with the SWAPGS instruction and its malicious use was that it was not known to be malicious. We've got to remember that we're talking about extremely complex systems and very few people know these structures in depth. Quite a few of these types of vulnerabilities has been discovered by private entities and not the chip manufacturers. This issue was discovered back in August 2018 - which is about half a year after Spectre and Meltdown. But Intel didn't want to address until the disclosing party insisted and presented further evidence. So another answer to your question is - politics.

Bitdefender(I have no affiliation or interest in promotion of them) has released a whitepaper on the topic which explains the entire issue in high detail which I can highly recommend: https://businessresources.bitdefender.com/hubfs/noindex/Bitdefender-WhitePaper-SWAPGS.pdf

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