Desktops, laptops, cloud servers, and smartphones are affected by one or both vulnerabilities, the researchers warn.
Intel may be on the hook for costs stemming from lawsuits claiming that the patches would slow computers and effectively force consumers to buy new hardware, and big customers will likely seek compensation from Intel for any software or hardware fixes they make, security experts said. Researchers with Alphabet's Google ProjectZero, in conjunction with academic and industry researchers from several countries, discovered two flaws.
Technology companies are scrambling to fix serious security flaws affecting computer processors built by Intel and other chipmakers and found in numerous world's personal computers and smartphones. "As it is not easy to fix, it will haunt us for quite some time", the researchers said, explaining why they chose to call the flaw Spectre. Researchers say one of the bugs, called Meltdown, affects almost every processor Intel has made since the mid-1990s. Owners of Intel-based CPUs in Oregon, California and in have sued Intel over the security flaws that have been highlighted in its chipset. Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices - with many different vendors' processors and operating systems - are susceptible to these exploits.
Daniel Gruss, a researcher on the team at Graz University of Technology, which discovered one of the bugs, told Reuters that it is "probably one of the worst [central processing unit] bugs ever found".
There is no evidence that hackers have been able to exploit the weaknesses and they would need to have the specific malware installed first, so hackers wouldn't be able to randomly try to take control of just any system connected to the internet.
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Microsoft and Google have said they expect few performance problems for most of their cloud computing customers.
However, the chip flaw is not exclusive to Intel products.
Media reports have suggesting a significant performance impact from some of the updates.
BI said that while many companies put in place plans to sell stock well ahead of schedule, and Krzanich's sale - of 245,743 shares owned by him and 644,135 shares obtained by exercising his options - was made under such a plan, he only put the plan in place on 30 October. The company said in a statement that its product designs meant that there is a "near zero risk to AMD processors at this time".