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Sep 23, 2013

Secret 3G Radio in Every Intel vPro CPU Could Steal Your Data at Any Time

We wonder if anyone expected this, but we suppose Intel had to drop a bomb at some point. And what better way to secure your spot on the enterprise 2-in-1 laptop, tablet and mobile workstation market, than by giving all of those PCs 3G support?

Hilariously enough, Intel has created one of the most sought after technologies without letting anyone know about it. Basically, all Intel vPro CPUs (which include new mobile Core i5 and Core i7 chips) have an undocumented 3G chip inside. That chip is visible to the 3G network, even when the PC is not powered on. Freelancer Jim Stone has just discovered the secret (or so he says), and according to him, the 3G is part of a second physical processor embedded within the main one. Said second CPU has its own embedded operating system and can be woken up at any time because the “phantom” power of the system is always there to draw upon. In other words, the secret 3G chip can act as a backdoor, complete with wake-on-LAN and wake-on-mobile. Which is to say, the computer can be turned on remotely through this undocumented 3G radio.

Intel actually embedded the 3G radio chip in order to enable its Anti Theft 3.0 technology. And since that technology is found on every Core i3/i5/i7 CPU after Sandy Bridge, that means a lot of CPUs, not just new vPro, might have a secret 3G connection nobody knew about until now. Sadly, Jim Stone doesn't actually provide any evidence for this, so we can either take him at his word or not think about any of this, seeing as how we can't really do anything about it even if it's true. On the one hand, it might all be fake. On the other hand, Intel may very well have integrated a secret ARM chip with always-on 3G on its vPro chips, but no one knows because the NSA forbid the disclosure of this info in order to have a backdoor into every computer. For security reasons of course.

Some will definitely argue that it's all for the sake of easy IT administration, but there will always be naysayers that will think this sort of thing exists so the hidden autocrats of our world can steal ideas from the hardworking little man. In the end, it all boils down to how suspicious and paranoid each person is about the people living in the higher echelons of our society.

Intel Core vPro Core i7 CPU might be just a little thief
Image credits to Intel


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