A newly discovered exploit in most modern computer processors could make your computer or phone vulnerable to attacks. But chipmakers say they’ve got fixes ready to go.
Several researchers, including a member of Google’s Project Zero team, found that a design technique used in chips from Intel, ARM and others could allow hackers to access data from the memory on your device. The problem impacts processors going back more than two decades and could let hackers access passwords, encryption keys or sensitive information open in applications.
The flaws, known by the names Spectre and Meltdown, aren’t unique to one particular chipmaker or device. Instead, they impact everything from phones to PCs and servers.
“It’s not really one vendor’s problem,” Steve Smith, head of Intel’s data center engineering operations, said during a conference call Wednesday. “It’s not an issue with our product. It’s not an issue with someone else’s product.” It’s a general design issue that impacts most modern chips, he said.
But you shouldn’t panic or worry that hackers will access your 5-year-old laptop or brand new Pixel phone. intel has been working with ARM, PC chip rival AMD and others to investigate the exploit and come up with a fix.
The New York Times reported one flaw, Spectre, could require a processor redesign. But intel and ARM say both exploits can be patched with software updates from them and operating system makers over the coming days and weeks.
They also plan to design their future chip architecture to prevent the exploits. In the case of Intel’s fix, it could slow down the performance of some devices by 30 percent or more.
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