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Factbox: What you need to do about newly discovered computer chip flaws

14 Enero 2018

News of the major security flaw in Intel processors broke two days ago, and since then we've learned that Apple has already patched its Intel based Macs with a previous update.

Intel added that the patches should reach 90% of the Intel CPUs from the past five years by the end of the week. Intel has also confirmed that the exploits don't have the potential to "corrupt, modify or delete data" on your device.

Chips potentially affected date back more than five years, with some products listed on Intel's website about the vulnerabilities having been introduced as far back as 2008.

This allegedly means that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was aware of the vulnerability when he sold approximately $24 million in stocks and options in November. Intel encourages computer users worldwide to use the automatic update functions of their operating systems and other computer software to ensure their systems are up to date.

To proceed with the claims, plaintiffs will need to establish that Intel misled consumers and prove damage resulting from the bugs, like performance slowdowns or cyberattacks. Furthermore, Intel is attempting to squelch the seemingly unavoidable consumer outcry for the performance hinderance new firmware patches will cause devices over the next few weeks as more machines get updated. According to Google, the issue was initially intended to be disclosed on January 9th, 2018. Microsoft and Linux Foundation are working on patches to fix the vulnerabilities while Apple has yet to make a statement on the matter.

The vulnerability which affects processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM could allow hackers to steal passwords and other secret data. Meltdown allows data to be read out of kernel memory; it doesn't let the attacker write it. Intel doesn't distinguish between Meltdown and Spectre, and it name-checks AMD and ARM as a way of making the risk profile of the situation seem more evenly distributed than it appears to be. 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.

A site, Meltdownattack.com, hosted by the Graz University of Technology - researchers from which also reported both Meltdown and Spectre - has further details.

In the case of some discrete workloads where the performance impact will initially be higher, Intel expects the impact to be reduced by additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates.

Factbox: What you need to do about newly discovered computer chip flaws