Intel shares fall as chip flaws dominate tech giant news

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Intel denied these claims, saying that "any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time".

"In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services", the chip maker said in a statement on Thursday.

Security tools and protocols are meant to separate individual customers' data, but the recently discovered chip flaws would allow hackers to circumvent these protections. "We are in the process of deploying mitigations to cloud services and have also released security updates to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities affecting supported hardware chips from Intel, ARM, and AMD", it went on to say. So far Intel is not aware of exploits based on the two vulnerabilities.

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Both exploits are the result of design flaws that allow a malicious program to use what are known as side channels to access system memory (which contains that data being processed) and record it. So all devices from computers to smartphones to tablets are impacted by the flaws. Sony, the other major console manufacturer, whose Playstation also uses custom AMD processor, has not responded or confirmed about the effect of Meltdown on its game consoles. Intel has not yet released a list of affected chips; it's keeping the details under lock and key until operating system patches have been released for Linux, Windows, and macOS. Where that isn't the case, new patches and updates are being developed.

Later that day, the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (CERT/CC) issued a security update that said the only way to protect against Spectre in particular would be to replace affected processors. It's a part of the Software Engineering Institute, which is itself a non-profit that's largely funded by grants from the US Department of Defence.

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While Intel has been plagued with the Meltdown bug, the Spectre flaw is more widespread and could prove to be incredible hard to fix. It is therefore extremely important the kernel memory remains secure due to the sensitive information it can contain.

Microsoft and Google have said they expect few performance problems for most of their cloud computing customers. When exploited, the bug can permit hackers with access to users' sensitive information.

Spectre breaks the isolation between different applications. However, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google have already addressed the security bug with the latest cumulative updates for their respective platforms.

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