What is the Intel Management Engine
The Intel ME is a coprocessor, running inside your Intel CPU, which is supposed to function as a out-of-band management system for your computer.
It’s based on a ARC core, can be powered even when the main CPU is off, and has more privileges than the CPU itself.
More info: Intel Active Management Technology
How to disable it
The ME firmware sits on the second SPI flash chip of the x230 (the 8MB one). We cannot remove it completely, otherwise the machine will shut itself off after 30 minutes. We can, however, reduce it to the bare minimum necessary to keep ip running, but without any malicious code in it (or so we hope…).
First take a flash dump of the chip, take it again and compare the two.
If they match, clone this repo:
and then run:
python me_cleaner.py -c flash.bin
to check if it’s a valid ME firmware.
The output should be like:
Full image detected The ME/TXE region goes from 0x3000 to 0x4ff000 Found FPT header at 0x3010 Found 23 partition(s) Found FTPR header: FTPR partition spans from 0x183000 to 0x24d000 ME/TXE firmware version 126.96.36.1990 Checking FTPR RSA signature... VALID
If it’s not, dump it again :)
Next, let’s strip all the nasty bits:
python me_cleaner.py -r -d -O clean_flash.bin flash.bin
Full image detected The ME/TXE region goes from 0x3000 to 0x4ff000 Found FPT header at 0x3010 Found 23 partition(s) Found FTPR header: FTPR partition spans from 0x183000 to 0x24d000 ME/TXE firmware version 188.8.131.520 Removing extra partitions... Removing extra partition entries in FPT... Removing EFFS presence flag... Removing ME/TXE R/W access to the other flash regions... Correcting checksum (0x7b)... Reading FTPR modules list... UPDATE (LZMA , 0x1cf4f2 - 0x1cf6b0): removed ROMP (Huffman, fragmented data ): NOT removed, essential BUP (Huffman, fragmented data ): NOT removed, essential KERNEL (Huffman, fragmented data ): removed POLICY (Huffman, fragmented data ): removed HOSTCOMM (LZMA , 0x1cf6b0 - 0x1d648b): removed RSA (LZMA , 0x1d648b - 0x1db6e0): removed CLS (LZMA , 0x1db6e0 - 0x1e0e71): removed TDT (LZMA , 0x1e0e71 - 0x1e7556): removed FTCS (Huffman, fragmented data ): removed ClsPriv (LZMA , 0x1e7556 - 0x1e7937): removed SESSMGR (LZMA , 0x1e7937 - 0x1f6240): removed Relocating FTPR to 0x3d00 - 0xcdd00... Adjusting FPT entry... Adjusting LUT start offset... Adjusting Huffman start offset... Adjusting chunks offsets... Moving data... The ME minimum size should be 98304 bytes (0x18000 bytes) The ME region can be reduced up to: 00003000:0001afff me Checking FTPR RSA signature... VALID Done! Good luck!
After that, you got your new, cleaned up version of the ME firmware inside clean_flash.bin
Flash it back on the SPI and you’re good to go :)