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Major flaw makes Intel processors vulnerable to hackers

It has been revealed that Intel processors contain a serious security flaw in their design. Potentially "millions of computers" may be affected according to the Daily Mail.

Published: January 7, 2018, 8:56 am

    Information about the breach that puts users at risk of providing hackers with their passwords, have programmers reportedly working around the clock to fix the problem.

    Tech site The Register, first reported that the kernel memory of an operating system (OS) is affected by this issue. The bug is expected to hit “major cloud computing platforms”.

    “A fundamental design flaw in Intel’s processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug,” the site reported.

    They warn that the neccessary updates to both Linux and Windows affect the performance of Intel products, with an estimated five to 30 percent slow down.

    PC gamers particularly, are expected to feel the slow-down as their programs take up a significant amount of processing speed.

    Kernel memory, made up of RAM chips, sits between an operating system’s physical and virtual drive, and contains essential information regarding the computer to protect from errors that may occur within the OS.

    The design flaw concerns the Intel x86-64 series of chips, affecting Windows and Linux desktop and servers as well as Apple devices.

    Downloading a patch to fix it, may impact a system’s performance and slow it down by 50 percent, some experts say. Additionally, sensitive information, including passwords and other login details, could easily be exploited by hackers.

    Intel has released a statement saying that the flaw is not unique to their products alone. The company maintains that Advanced Micro Devices and ARM chips have also been hit by the flaw.

    They have advised users to “check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available”.

    AMD, hoewever, has said in their 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.

    The Meltdown bug is believed to affect Intel processors made after 1995. The Spectre bug, while it is more difficult to exploit, is far more pervasive, according to experts.

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