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13 January 2018, 05:08 | Edward Lowe
Intel Fumbles Its Patch for Chip Flaw
Roughly a week ago, Intel started rolling out the first firmware updates aimed at mitigating any security issues surrounding both Meltdown and Spectre. "We are patching the CPU vulnerability the same way that Amazon, the same way that SAP, the same way that Microsoft, etc is patching because we have software as well", said Huang.
The company admitted as much in a blog post penned by Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel.
The problems affect PC and datacenter systems running the company's Broadwell and Haswell processors. However, this may not be as easy as it sounds.
The notice comes on the heels of a report in The Wall Street Journal that Intel has been quietly advising its customers not to install the latest firmware updates.
Meltdown, Google explains, "breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system". So the company looked for another solution.
"In September, we began deploying solutions for both Variants 1 and 3 to the production infrastructure that underpins all Google products - from Cloud services to Gmail, Search and Drive - and more-refined solutions in October", Google writes.
Given the difficulty of solving it, Google's Project Zero security team made a rare exception to its 90-day disclosure policy, which gives vendors and companies 90 days to solve the problem before it releases details of a vulnerability to the public.
So where does this leave you and your IT department? Krzanich claims that by January 15, Intel will have issues updates for at least 90% of their CPUs that were produced in the last five years, and updates for all will be issued by the end of the month. But there is talk online that there may be other bugs in some patches.
But here is a potential approach that might work best.
VMware has pledged to issue fixes at the hypervisor level, and cloud providers such as Google and Amazon say they've patched their VMs, but it's wise to patch the kernels, as well, Pereira said.
Further reports reveal that the patches that would fix the affected CPUs were also loaded with updates like the usual raft fixes and enhancements. This is one situation where the security fix might not be worth it. Alongside the variant one OS patches, AMD are offering an optional microcode update for all Ryzen and EPYC processors to reduce the threat of variant two attacks - available nearly immediately.
Meltdown and Spectre have been discovered in computer chips in billions of computers, smartphone and tablets across the world.
I know it's weird for me to say to be cautions about updates, but in this case it might make sense.
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