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Amid chip flap, Intel scurries to combat 'inaccurate media reports'

13 January 2018

Media reports have suggesting a significant performance impact from some of the updates.

The electronics giant urged consumers and businesses to check with operating system vendors and device manufacturers for updates. Further details on this flaw have not been disclosed by Intel.

On Wednesday, Google and Intel disclosed "Meltdown" and "Spectre," two ways to exploit Intel, AMD, and ARM processors and get access to confidential data.

There is no evidence that hackers have been able to exploit the weaknesses and they would need to have the specific malware installed first, so hackers wouldn't be able to randomly try to take control of just any system connected to the internet.

This is a hardware-level bug that could allow attackers to access sensitive data stored in the kernel memory. "Intel's material defect can be patched - but patched computers, smartphones and devices suffer reduced performance", stated one of the lawsuits, filed in the District of Oregon.

A Singapore-based Microsoft spokesman said: "We have not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities had been used to attack our customers".

But Intel said in a statement after USA stock markets closed on Thursday that the performance impact of the recent security updates should not be significant and would be mitigated over time. Intel on its part has helped to provide security patches, but the complaints raise concerns that these patches will hurt their computer performance, and aren't the proper solution needed to help resolve the issues. "These new exploits leverage data about the proper operation of processing techniques common to modern computing platforms, potentially compromising security even though a system is operating exactly as it is created to". Much debate now seems set to ensue as to what degree which processors are affected and how much they are hobbled in performance by the resulting software burden. Dan Guido, chief executive of cyber security consulting firm Trail of Bits, said that businesses should quickly move to update vulnerable systems, saying he expects hackers to quickly develop code they can use to launch attacks that exploit the vulnerabilities.

"In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services". Worse is the fact you can do nothing about it, as the slowdown is a side effect of fixing a major design flaw in Intel processors.

Spectre is less unsafe than Meltdown, but will be more hard to patch. However, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google have already addressed the security bug with the latest cumulative updates for their respective platforms.

Amid chip flap, Intel scurries to combat 'inaccurate media reports'