As reported by Reuters, Intel Corp informed its customers and shareholders on Friday that it was facing 32 lawsuits relating to security flaws in its processors. The security flaws, called “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” reportedly affect almost every system since 1995. The “Meltdown” vulnerability may be exploited by hackers to steal data by accessing the highest level of memory that is used by computers to run processes.
“Spectre,” which is not as much a vulnerability, but a new type of attack, could allow hackers to access information running processes through “speculative execution” – a method that optimizes processor performance. While patches have been rolled out to address the “Meltdown” vulnerability, “Spectre” is harder to patch because it involves mitigating a vulnerability caused by the way that modern processors operate.
It appears that Intel is not alone. Both Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. and ARM Holdings – other manufacturers of microchips – are also impacted by the flaws. According to Intel, 30 of the claims are consumer class action lawsuits, and the remaining two are securities-related class actions. Intel reports that while it does not “expect a material financial impact to [its] business or operations from these security vulnerabilities . . . subsequent events or new information could develop which changes [its] expectation.”
Technology is unquestionably ubiquitous in our daily lives. But, security exploits like “Meltdown” and “Spectre” serve as a reminder that technology flaws not only impact individual consumers and their devices but could also pose greater challenges to our economy and even our national security if vulnerabilities are not promptly identified and patched by manufacturers and programmers.
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