TechLife Australia

Huge CPU security flaw discovered, putting millions of devices at risk UPDATES HAVE BEEN RELEASED, BUT ARE CAUSING SOME MACHINES TO FREEZE OR RANDOMLY REBOOT.


IN EARLY JANUARY, 20 years’ worth of Intel, ARM and AMD CPUs were found to carry a critical flaw, potentiall­y leaving hundreds of millions of computing devices vulnerable to hacking. Software and OS makers were quick to release patches to help mitigate the risk — at the time of print, Intel, AMD and ARM were all working on hardware fixes for their most recent products, with patches for older devices expected further down the line.

Apple had already partially addressed the flaw in its recent 10.13.2 macOS release, with further tweaks to be added to the 10.13.3 update. Android phones with the latest security updates should also be safe, said Google, while Microsoft released a patch that would automatica­lly be updated on systems running Windows 10. These patches, it was widely reported, would slow down a computer’s performanc­e, but Intel insisted that, on its CPUs, the impact was workload-dependent and should not affect the “average user”. A later statement, however, added that there are “cases where the impact may be significan­t”. Even though Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the opening moments of his keynote speech at CES 2018 to promise that all Intel machines would be patched up by the end of January, Intel has asked end users to not download the latest patches, citing spontaneou­s reboot and system instabilit­y problems.

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