Millions of Intel chips hit with major flaw

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"Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time", the release added.

Microsoft, Google, and Amazon outlined that they are providing updates on cloud services and other platforms to counter flaws of intel chips.

A highly-regarded and U.S. government-linked cybersecurity organisation has quietly withdrawn its recommendation that users and manufacturers replace the chips in their devices to fully protect against a security vulnerability that just became public.

Following Intel's disclosure that many of its chips have been vulnerable to hackers, the company said on Thursday that it's been rolling out updates for most processors introduced in the past five years, with more on the way. Although hackers will find it harder to take advantage of Spectre, it is also more challenging for computer manufacturers to ward off, the researchers said. One of the bugs which is rooted in Intel processors that purportedly allows miscreants to access device kernel memory data, a potential threat that once exploited can easily disclose passwords and other important credentials. "Intel's material defect can be patched-but patched computers, smartphones and devices suffer reduced performance", one of the lawsuits states.

But Intel said in a statement after US stock markets closed on Thursday that the performance impact of the recent security updates should not be significant and would be mitigated over time. Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices - with many different vendors' processors and operating systems - are susceptible to these exploits.

Google agrees. In a blog posted on Thursday, the tech giant says it created a technique called "Retpoline" that protects against the attack with minimal impact on performance. Much debate now seems set to ensue as to what degree which processors are affected and how much they are hobbled in performance by the resulting software burden.

The revelations "attack the foundational modern computer building block capability that enforces protection of the (operating system)", said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at security firm McAfee.

It's not all good news for AMD, however, as another flaw has been found which can affect systems using Intel, ARM, and AMD. That content includes sensitive information, including passwords and encryption keys. Chip makers will have to redesign future processors that will be protected against the exploits and its variants. The most important action users can take right now is to make sure they are current on any software updates, said Ghosemajumder.

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