Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Google discovers 'serious' flaws in Intel and other chips

Google discovers 'serious' flaws in Intel and other chips

Two major vulnerabilities in processing chips from Intel, ARM, and AMD-affecting nearly all computers, servers, cloud operating systems, and cellphones made in the past two decades-were revealed by security researchers on Wednesday. All that said, Intel has since come out with an official statement on the matter where, among other things, it notes that patched machines will not, as initially reported, necessarily run 30% slower.

Researchers on Wednesday published details of the flaw, which unlike many other vulnerabilities stems from the chip itself and how it safeguards private data stored on computers and networks.

The lawsuits also allege that the patches to fix the vulnerabilities will cause computers to operate more slowly.

Some experts pointed out that the only real "fix" in some cases would be replacing the chip itself, which would be a massive issue for the computing industry. Intel has provided security patches ever since, but, the complaints raise concerns that these patches will hinder the performance of their computers and is not an adequate response to the serious issues raised against the company's products.

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According to Intel, the "performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time".

Software patches aren't enough to fully mend Spectre, which fools applications into divulging restricted data.

Spectre and Meltdown affect a vast amount of processor chips, particularly given how many PCs and laptops contain Intel CPUs. There is no evidence that hackers have taken advantage of the vulnerability - at least not yet.

Nonetheless, there are a number of ways that hackers may exploit the flaws.

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They claim that the vulnerability in the chipset, which Intel learned about several months ago, make its chips inherently faulty.

On Thursday, Apple confirmed that all Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but that no known exploits have impacted its customers.

The researchers at Google showed how a hacker could exploit the flaw to get passwords, encryption codes and more, even though there have been no reports of any attacks using the vulnerability. There is also reportedly a partial fix right now for macOS 10.13.2, while the currently unreleased macOS 10.13.3 will have a more comprehensive solution. Some say performance speeds of Intel computers with older processors could slow down by as much as 30 per cent, though newer Skylake processors might not have face a severe impact. It was forced to address it earlier because of a Wednesday news report.

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