In a recent announcement Intel has confirmed that there is a bug with their CPU chipset design. This includes some ARM chips and the majority of their processors, and these bugs could potentially harm the security of millions of users and their devices.
Even though the company has stated that these bugs are not unique to their chipsets, there are a lot of security experts that claim that these newly revealed facts could lead to severe security consequences and all of this might harm the company substantially.
This hardware bug affects basically all operating systems, meaning that nobody is safe. The scale of the problem is so large because it is embedded in the design of the hardware and it could easily be traced back to devices from 20 years ago.
They have a “solution”
Two of the major issues with these Intel chips can allow attackers to steal various data by accessing the memory of the currently running apps, including data from browsers, documents, photos, emails and password managers as well.
The people who found these bugs named them “Spectre” and “Meltdown” while adding that almost all systems developed by Intel since 1995 are affected by them, including phones and computers. Many other security experts that tested the system have also confirmed that if an attacker knew what he or she was doing, they would be able to steal any data on any system powered by these chipsets.
Intel has taken the issue into their own hands and already developed a software patch that works on all operating systems and can fix the issue. However, it has already been confirmed that this patch takes its toll on the system and reduces the overall performance by as much as 30% percent.
A bug that exists in Intel’s processors supposedly gives attackers access to the kernel memory data and this is a major security issue that can be exploited very easily. All of the solutions for this kind of problem would require total isolation of kernel memory, meaning that it would be completely inaccessible.
They are making an effort
Even though the latest of these chipset bugs have been published last Tuesday, all of the large tech giants have obviously already known about the discovery and worked together on making an adequate response for this crisis.
They have been working hard on making important patches that will help their systems and their customers as well. All of the tech companies had until 9th of January to come up with some sort of response for the situation and it seems like they’ve already come up with a few.
Microsoft has already released a couple of patches to fix up Windows and Windows users that are in the inner circle and working on giving feedback to the company, have already gotten their patches during November. Apple has supposedly patched their macOS 10.13.2. There are patches available for Linux as well.
All of the bigger cloud service providers that are powering their servers with Intel chipsets have also been affected by this news and they’ve all started taking steps towards dealing with the issue.
The most important ones are Google, Microsoft and Amazon who are looking to patch up all of the cloud services that they offer and schedule accurately for downtime. This will allow them to let their customers know how to prepare in advance, while making sure that the potential attackers don’t read processes that might be located on a certain shared cloud hosting server.
How much trouble will the fixes cause?
All of the patches that are released and being prepared are designed to fix the vulnerabilities of these bugs and make the flaws unnoticeable. However, odds are that all of the systems and devices will suffer chip performance due to these fixes.
All of the users that have computers with these chipsets will experience slower performance both on their private devices and work computers. Additionally, all cloud services that we mentioned earlier will suffer as well, and this means slower websites and lower quality of service for users.
Intel has stated that average users that don’t have a high workload on their devices won’t feel a significant performance reduction and that servers and similar computers will have bigger issues. All of the new devices that are to be released in the future will be re-designed to mitigate the problem completely.
On the other hand, all of the currently used devices that have these problems will suffer from them until the tech companies come up with better solutions. Intel has released a statement in which they promise to work on this issue in the future in order to reduce the performance loss and try to remove the side-effects of the fixes completely.
Although those with Intel’s chipsets are experiencing the worst security issues, as these chipsets have major bugs, the reality is that both AMD and ARM chips are also affected, although no major flaws have been discovered, yet.
This is potentially a huge problem for all chipsets that are currently used around the world and only time will tell what is yet to be discovered on this issue. The fact that all the big players are looking to work together to deal with this problem is encouraging and we can at least hope that they will find an effective solution soon.