Enero 24, 2018

'Serious' flaws in Intel and other chips impact millions of devices

13 Enero 2018, 03:45 | Bibiana Flor

Meltdown, Spectre chip flaws raise questions about hardware security

Major security flaws put virtually all phones & computers at risk

Google's Project Zero security team recently discovered the bug in processors from Intel, while it has been already confirmed that the bug also exists in AMD and ARM chipsets.

"Intel and its partners have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates", the company said in a press release. The researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities said that "almost every system", since 1995, including computers and phones, is affected by the bug.

Suspiciously, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off $24 million worth of stock late last year before the vulnerabilities became public knowledge.

So far, it has not received any reports of attacks due to the two critical flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre.

"Programs can, for example, find passwords that are stored in other programs", he said.

Are the iPad and AppleTV affected?

These exploits make most of the world's devices vulnerable to potential attacks from cyber-criminals.

However, later on Thursday afternoon, CERT/CC withdrew that recommendation, saying merely that anybody affected should install operating system updates as soon as possible.

"From these traces, we can find out some information about the data that it was processing", Dr Yarom explained.

At the moment, the main details of the flaw are being kept under wraps. Spectre won't be stamped out entirely until processors stop relying on a concept known as "speculative execution", which is a cornerstone of modern chip design.

Google agrees. In a blog posted on Thursday, the tech giant says it created a technique called "Retpoline" that protects against the attack with minimal impact on performance.

The chipmaker said it would require users to download a patch and update their operating system to fix the issue.

How will it affect you?

And the worst part is that this patch is going to affect your computer performance. The computing industry is scrambling to lessen the severity of the problem with updates to operating systems, web browsers, cloud-computing services and other foundations that need to be kept secure. And the company now faces class-action lawsuits, including one in Oregon, alleging "material defects" in its technology.

For Chrome OS, version 63 released in December includes patches for "Intel Chrome OS devices on kernels 3.18 and 4.4". However, to call this ill-timed would be an understatement. Fixing the flaw could result in your system slowing down as much as 30 percent.

Intel briefly addressed performance in its statement.

AMD said that its processors are not subject to the vulnerability. Amazon and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Dr Glance described the situation as serious but not "hopeless". Google says Android devices are protected if they have the latest security updates.

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