Google Discovers 'Serious' Flaws In Intel And Other Chips

There's no evidence that bad actors have yet exploited the bugs, but companies from Microsoft to Mozilla said this week they have worked to patch up vulnerabilities to their operating systems and browsers to protect against one of the bugs.

The other flaw, Spectre, affects most processors now in use, though the researchers believe this flaw is more hard to exploit.

Intel denied that the patches would bog down computers based on Intel chips.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft said they have started rolling out security fixes for their cloud service platforms.

Critical hardware flaws revealed this week are putting billions of computers and smartphones at security risk, and Singapore's cyber security authority has urged all users to apply available security software fixes immediately. ARM Holdings said it's working with Intel, AMD and operating system vendors to address the problem.

Most of the immediate fixes will be limited to the Meltdown bug.

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AMD and ARM dominate the rest of the computer chip market, although Samsung leads in chip making for mobile devices. These issues apply to all modern processors and affect almost all computing devices and operating systems.

The bugs also affect cloud-computing services powering much of the internet.

"On affected systems, Meltdown enables an adversary to read memory of other processes or virtual machines in the cloud without any permissions or privileges, affecting millions of customers and virtually every user of a personal computer", they wrote in a paper.

Unauthorised access will be hard to detect so cloud-computing providers need to act quickly to protect against these vulnerabilities, said Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint.

There are limits to what consumers can do now to protect their computers.

Processors in smartphones and computers are effectively the brains of the device, and queue up possible actions the user may execute in order for it to run as quickly as possible.

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Although billions of computers and devices are vulnerable, security fixes are already being rolled out.

That's not to say nothing can be done.

Apple on Thursday released a statement saying that all of its Mac and iOS devices are affected by the flaws. In the coming days we plan to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre.

The release cited comments from Inc, Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc's and Microsoft Corp, which said that they had seen no significant impact to performance after installing the patches.

Apple had a partial fix for the problem and is expected to have an additional update. However, Google, Firefox and Microsoft have implemented measures in most web browsers to stop hackers from launching remote attacks using Spectre. "If you aren't up to date, then there's a lot of other nasties out there you should probably also be worrying about".

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