January 20, 2018

Intel Facing Multiple Lawsuits Over Chip Security Flaw

13 January 2018, 01:48 | Marlene Myers

Intel says rapidly issuing updates to all processors impacted by Meltdown

Intel processor

These hardware bugs allow programs to steal data which is now processed on the computer. This can include passwords, photos, e-mails, other messages and documents. For Firefox, mitigations for Meltdown and Spectre are available with Firefox 57.0.4 update and these will be available with Chrome 64.

There's no evidence that bad actors have yet exploited the bugs, but companies from Microsoft to Mozilla said this week they have worked to patch up vulnerabilities to their operating systems and browsers to protect against one of the bugs. But chipmakers say they've got fixes ready to go.

Here's a look at what's affected, what's being done about it and whether you should worry. At the centre of all this is Intel as it produces processors for a majority of computing devices around the world.

The other flaw, Spectre, affects most processors now in use, though the researchers believe this flaw is more hard to exploit.

The silicon giant has started rolling out security updates for all Intel-powered devices affected by the vulnerabilities Meltdown and Spectre that Google Project Zero team made public on Wednesday.

Furthermore, Intel said that the security issues are not from the processor designs themselves, but in the approach that researchers used to compromise a system.

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The new Meltdown and Spectre computer security problems won't be a problem much longer for most PC users, Intel said Thursday. News of the issues sent Intel's stock tumbling yesterday, and at the time of publishing, it was down about 3% from yesterday's closing price.

The Tame Apple Press has been doing its best to claim that Apple is less affected than anyone else because no one had been hacked using the exploit.

Intel shares have fallen dramatically over the last few days as investors react to the news that almost every computing system will be affected by the flaws, which can also impact hardware made by AMD and ARM. This means that apart from PCs, Spectre is present in smartphones as well. ARM Holdings said it's working with Intel, AMD and operating system vendors to address the problem. Microsoft has also released a statement saying they have now introduced an update which will act as the said solution for the security flaw, but this might have a performance impact, which can be as big as a 30 percent slowdown. Google and Amazon are also updating their cloud services.

Meltdown is a particular problem for the cloud computing services run by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Consider the figures for personal computers alone: there are 1.5 billion in use today (desktop and laptop combined) and around 90% are powered by Intel chips, IDC estimates.

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