Cybersecurity, Intel chips, securoity flaw, kernel | Homeland Security Newswire

CybersecurityPractically all Intel processors produced in the last decade found to have major security flaw

Published 3 January 2018

A major security flaw has been discovered in practically all Intel processors. The flaw will require fixes within Windows, macOS, and Linux. Developers are currently working overtime to fix what they describe as a significant security hole within the Intel chips. Patches are already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows. Experts note that the fixes, once in place, will slow down computers and cloud servers considerably.

A major security flaw has been discovered in practically all Intel processors. The flaw will require fixes within Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The Register reports that developers are currently working overtime to fix what they describe as a significant security hole within the Intel chips. Patches are already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows.

Experts note that the fixes, once in place, will slow down computers considerably.

The flaw has affected all Intel processors made in the last decade, which means that tens of millions of computers, running virtually any operating system, are affected. The specific details of the flaw have not been made public.

Experts who spoke with the Register note that details of the fixes being developed point to issues that have to do with the access by regular programs to the more secure parts of a computer’s memory. The security flaw in the Intel processors may be used to access passwords, login information, and other sensitive and protected information stored on the computer.

The fixes being implemented resolve this problem by moving the memory used by the kernel, that is, the core of the computer’s operating system, away from the memory used by regular programs. Hackers would thus be unable to manipulate normal programs to exploit the security hole and gain access to the protected kernel memory.

The separation of the two types of memories, however, is expected to affect the performance of the computer, and may slow down some actions by up to 30 percent.

Experts noted that the slowing down by security patches will affect not only computer users, but also cloud servers. Users of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google servers will also see a reduction in the speed of accessing and retrieving information from the cloud.

The experts also note that the length of time it has taken developers to fix the problem is indication of how serious the flaw is, since it could not be fixed with small, easy-to-develop update.