The problem here is that programs are able to access that previous information, even when it is supposed to be protected memory.
That could make it possible for hackers to exploit other security bugs or, worse, expose secure information such as passwords, thus compromising individual computers or even entire server networks. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday: "these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December".
Peter Zaitsev, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Percona, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based company that helps businesses set and manage large computer databases, said that firms running such databases might see a 10 to 20 percent slowdown in performance from the patches being issued. Microsoft said the majority of its Azure cloud infrastructure has been updated with the fix and most customers won't see a noticeable slowdown with the update.
Here's a look at what's affected, what's being done about it and whether you should worry. It affected around 300,000 computers in 150 countries and had a devastating effect on businesses and organisations including the UK's National Health Service (NHS).
Intel's prominence in the tech community means that it is under extreme scrutiny when it comes to security breaks and disasters of this caliber. But two days ago a security flaw in the processors was revealed that allowed a user to access memory that would usually be restricted. It also reported that the updates to fix the problems could causes Intel chips to operate 5 to 30% more slowly.
These vulnerabilities, first disclosed earlier this week by security researchers from Google and other organizations, have already wiped billions in value from Intel, whose chips are among those affected.
While security flaws are typically limited to a specific company or product, Intel says the problem is "not a bug or a flaw in Intel products" but rather a broader problem affecting processing techniques common to modern computing platforms. Unless you are doing something high-end such as gaming or video editing, the processor updates shouldn't affect your usage at all except for the amount of time it will take to update. A similar issue was reported in the early 1990s in which a security breach was discovered in their Pentium processors, and the company responded by making their product design and bug-testing more robust.
In a statement released Wednesday, Intel acknowledged the problem, saying that it is "working closely with many other technology companies, including AMD, ARM Holdings and several operating system vendors, to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively".
The bugs also affect cloud-computing services powering much of the internet.
Chips from all of the Big Three of Intel, AMD and Softbank's ARM are putting almost all consumer devices at risk of hacking - PCs, laptops, phones, tablets and servers.
Intel processor chips are a staple in computers that are designed with user functionality in mind.
Unauthorized access will be difficult to detect so cloud-computing providers need to act quickly to protect against these vulnerabilities, said Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint.
There are limits to what consumers can do now to protect their computers.
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