Earlier in 2018, security researchers disclosed a set of safety flaws that could potentially give hackers the opportunity to steal sensitive information from many modern computing devices. The devices that are most at risk are those that contain chips such as those from computing company, Intel, among others.
Intel issued a statement insisting that this is not a design flaw, however, it will require users to download a patch and update their operating systems. The defect currently affects laptops, smartphones, tablets and internet servers.
This weakness affecting the Intel chips allows hackers to bypass hardware system barriers between applications run by users and the CPU memory, potentially letting them steal passwords from the computer’s memory bank. “Phones, PCs, everything are going to have some impact, but it will vary from product to product,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in an interview with CNBC.
The second of the flaws lets hackers potentially “trick” otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information. This affects chips from Intel, AMD and ARM, leading computing giants in the industry. As if to rub salt in the wound, the updates to fix these problems could also be causing the Intel chips to operate between 5 and 30% slower, of course, Intel has denied this.
Google said in a recent blog post that Android phones running the latest security updates are protected, as are Nexus and Pixel phones that have the most recent security updates installed. Gmail users do not need to take any additional action to protect themselves, but users of Chromebooks, Chrome web browser and Google Cloud services who have installed their own operating systems will need to complete the necessary software updates.
For Apple users, it is unclear if any of their iOS devices are at risk. On the other hand, Microsoft said that a “majority” of its Azure cloud services used by businesses had already been patched and protected and that a Windows security update will be issued.
“Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits,” Intel said in a statement. “Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”
The defect affects memory on Intel x86 processor chips manufactured over the past decade, making it possible for hackers to exploit security bugs, expose secure information, compromise personal computers or (on a more dramatic scale) take advantage of entire server networks.
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