Intel Reports 'Significant Progress' In Patching Chip Security Flaws

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After tech firms rushed to fix security flaws in chips that hackers can exploit, reports surfaced that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off $24 million worth of stock and options a year ago after the chip-maker became aware of security bugs.

While security flaws are typically limited to a specific company or product, Intel says the problem is "not a bug or a flaw in Intel products" but rather a broader problem affecting processing techniques common to modern computing platforms.

Intel, however, said Krzanich's sale had nothing to do with chip vulnerability.

Intel's efforts to play down the impact resulted in a war of words with AMD. Researchers say one of the bugs, called Meltdown, affects almost every processor Intel has made since the mid-1990s. The security researchers at Google Project Zero opened the box of Pandora when they found out about a slew of new vulnerabilities that have impacted every Intel processor shipped over a decade.

The vulnerability doesn't just affect PCs. By queuing up possible executions in advance, they're able to crunch data and run software much faster.

Security researchers released documentation this week of critical vulnerabilities in modern processors used on nearly every computer around the world. The security updates may slow down older machinery by as much as 30 percent, according to the report. But what sounds unusual to some people and raises eyebrows is that the sale was made months after Google told Intel about the scary vulnerabilities in their processors that exist at the fundamental level. Intel originally planned to disclose the issue and third-party fixes next week, but made today's statement to correct "inaccurate media reports", the company said.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., identified the researcher as Jann Horn.

Google said the problem also affects other processors as well as the devices and operating systems that use them.

Google says Android devices with the latest security update installed are already protected, while users of the Chrome web browser and Chromebook computers may need to download an update. Late in the day, Microsoft said the majority of Azure cloud infrastructure has been updated with the fix and most customers won't see a noticeable slowdown with the update. The fixes were originally planned for release on January 9, but were rushed out Wednesday after the weakness was made public, according to a person familiar with the situation.

"When you're running billions of servers, a 5 percent hit is huge", he said.

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