Security flaw in Intel chips could slow machines by up to 30%

Security flaw in Intel chips could slow machines by up to 30%

The first big tech news story of 2018 is a tale that has apparently been ten years in the making. The news just now emerging is that a flaw built into Intel chips, which are vital to almost all PCs and laptops, as well as other technology, makes them vulnerable to the computer’s kernel being hacked.

This is big news indeed. The kernel runs and stores every function on the device, and the flaw means that a hacker could potentially bypass antivirus or firewall security software. This could allow malicious software to steal passwords and sensitive files or cryptographic keys.

Intel has reportedly warned software vendors including Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, about the flaw and the details are due to be made public next week. Intel itself is unable to fix the flaw, so these vendors are all working flat out to creating a workaround to fix the problem and are expected to release patches next week to do this.

But here comes the rub. According to technology website The Register this workaround could make computers run between 5% and 30% slower, because of the need to create different processing routes to and from the kernel, to protect this sensitive information.

This will be annoying for a personal user who could find that their laptop runs a bit slower. But it will have a much bigger impact on businesses, who could find that their ability to support users with efficient processing speeds has dropped by 30 in every 100. This could have cost implications for business using Intel technology and also cloud computing services.

Rival chip producers AMD say that their own chips are not affected in the same way as Intel, because of the way that they are designed. Here at Transputec we are in touch with our major vendors, including Microsoft and Amazon, to find out how they are planning to resolve this issue and provide cost-effective solutions for our existing customers.

If you need to find out more we are here to help.

Sonny Sehgal
Head of Cyber Security

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