More than 40 drivers from at least twenty hardware vendors have been reported to have vulnerabilities that may lead to privilege escalation. Such vulnerabilities have previously been exploited in the wild by attackers like the Slingshot APT and APT28 aka Fancy Bear, for privilege escalation. The vulnerabilities are critical, since a driver code enables communication between the OS kernel and the hardware, having a higher permission level. Moreover, Hardware firmware is also updated through drivers, so these vulnerabilities can also be leveraged to reach and alter the functioning of deeper critical components. Researchers report that these vulnerabilities can be exploited to gain highly privileged access to the hardware resources, such as read and write access to processor and chipset I/O space, Model Specific Registers (MSR), Control Registers (CR), Debug Registers (DR), physical memory and kernel virtual memory.
These drivers affect all modern versions of Windows, including Windows 10. Using these vulnerabilities, the components could be disabled, triggering a denial-of-service condition on the system.
Reports claim that even if systems do not have an outdated vulnerable driver installed, threat actors may add one to their target systems for privilege escalation and persistence purposes.
No universal mechanism is currently available to prevent windows machines from loading vulnerable drivers. Other solutions to mitigate this threat include regular scanning for outdated system and component firmware, and applying the latest driver fixes, as soon as they are released by device manufactures, in order to resolve any vulnerabilities.