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01/06/2018 / By Ralph Flores
Bad news for people running Intel processors — a massive security flaw has been found in the design of your processors. This potentially may affect “millions of computers” running on the chip, and puts you at risk of providing hackers with your passwords, as reported by the Daily Mail.
While further information about the breach (what exactly is its nature as well as its reach) have not yet been released, programmers are reportedly working around the clock to provide a fix for the issue.
The flaw, which was first reported the by the tech site The Register, affects the kernel memory of an operating system (OS) — the part of the program which boots up first in order to kickstart core processes and tasks. Particularly, the flaw affects the way the processor accesses this part of the system.
Ideally, kernel memory, which is made up of RAM chips, is well-protected, as it resides in an area between an operating system’s physical and virtual drive. It also occupies specific areas of the hard drive made just for kernel memory. Moreover, it contains essential information regarding the computer to protect from errors that may occur within the OS.
The design flaw hits the Intel x86-64 series of chips — which is what most Windows and Linux desktop and servers are running, as well as many of Apple’s devices. Experts believe that this affects chips made in the last decade and that fixing it will involve downloading a patch that may impact your system’s performance and slow it down by 50 percent. Additionally, this exposes sensitive information, which may include passwords and other login details. Hackers may exploit this flaw by writing code to mine data and compromise private information. (Related: Are your appliances spying on you? LG Smart devices are easily hacked warn security experts.)
Updates to fix this flaw will hit performance speeds for both Windows and Linux operating systems. The exact figures are still up for discussion, but initial reports are looking at a slowdown range of anywhere between 17 and 23 percent in speed. This dip in speed may not be noticeable for casual users (think people who use the computer to surf the web or edit documents), but PC gamers are expected to feel the difference as their programs take up a significant amount of processing speed.
The bug is also posed to hit “major cloud computing platforms,” according to a blogger cited by The Register article.
Intel has since released a statement regarding the flaw after it was called out, claiming that the flaw is unique to their products alone as “incorrect,” stating that Advanced Micro Devices and ARM chips have also been hit by the flaw. They have since advised users to “check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available.”
AMD has said in a separate statement that “there is a near zero risk to AMD processors at this time.”
The security flaws, named Meltdown and Spectre, take advantage of “critical vulnerabilities” in modern processors, opening the possibility of programs to get data from the affected computers. Although Meltdown and Spectre are found in a secure area of the operating system, a code can be written to allow hackers to gain access to passwords that are stored in computer browsers. The Meltdown bug is believed to affect Intel processors made after 1995. However, the Spectre bug, while it is harder to exploit, is far more pervasive, according to experts.
Learn more about effects of the latest Intel bug by visiting Glitch.news today.