Technology Flawed computer chips and how to fix them

05:22  08 january  2018
05:22  08 january  2018 Source:   Relaxnews (AFP)

Intel reveals chip design flaw that could have allowed hackers to access hidden info

  Intel reveals chip design flaw that could have allowed hackers to access hidden info Hardware and software manufacturers including Apple and Microsoft began pushing out patches that protected against attacks making use of the flaw. The flaw, which Intel dubbed a side-channel analysis attack,  was discovered "months ago" Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said on CNBC Wednesday. The discovery was made by researchers at Google's Project Zero security group, which reported it to the affected companies. The vulnerabilities undermine some of the most fundamental security constraints employed by modern computers, said Craig Young, a researcher at computer security company Tripwire.

They are among the first flaws ever found to affect the running of every IT system in the world. As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices.

Chip flaws give sophisticated hackers potential access to sensitive data. AFP file photo. It’s the central element of computers , smartphones and other digital devices, allowing them to function by carrying out instructions and handling programme data.

With tech giants racing to fix flaws in microprocessors, The stakes are highest for the protection of sensitive data such as passwords, pictures, personal documents and e-mails.© Provided by AFPRelaxNews With tech giants racing to fix flaws in microprocessors, The stakes are highest for the protection of sensitive data such as passwords, pictures, personal documents and e-mails. As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like "Spectre" or "Meltdown" and what can be done about this latest IT scare.

What is Meltdown? And Spectre?

These are the names given to two flaws which have been detected in most of the micro processors in use today, be it on computers, tablets, smartphones or game consoles. They are among the first flaws ever found to affect the running of every IT system in the world.

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© AFP | Chip flaws give sophisticated hackers potential access to sensitive data. It's the central element of computers , smartphones and other digital devices, allowing them to function by carrying out instructions and handling programme data.

These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices. With tech giants racing to fix flaws in microprocessors, the stakes are highest for the protection of sensitive data such as passwords, pictures, personal documents and

Meltdown appears for now to affect mostly chips built by US giant Intel, according to sector specialists Kaspersky Labs and Symantec.

The flaw could allow attackers to break down the barrier between user apps and the heart of the operating system, according to Kaspersky Labs, "enabling them to potentially steal data from the memory of running apps".

Anybody exploiting the flaw would get access to a complete cartography of all the files present in the device's memory at the time of the attack, by hijacking a process that was originally designed to optimize processor performance.

The Spectre threat is potentially even bigger because it concerns all chip makers: AMD and AMR as well as Intel.

What is a micro processor?

It's the central element of computers, smartphones and other digital devices, allowing them to function by carrying out instructions and handling programme data.

Tech firms battle to resolve major security flaw

  Tech firms battle to resolve major security flaw Amazon, Google and now Apple as the list of digital giants hit by the "Spectre" and "Meltdown" computer security flaws grows longer, the race is on to limit the damage. "All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time," Apple -- whose devices are usually regarded as secure -- said in a post on an online support page on Thursday.Amost all microprocessors produced over the past 10 years by Intel, AMD and ARM are affected.

As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like “Spectre” or These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices.

As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like "Spectre" or "Meltdown" and what can be done about this latest IT scare. What is Meltdown? And Spectre?

A processor is made up of a number of transistors. The more transistors there are, the higher the chip's capacity to handle data.

These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices. Processor power is measured in bits, a gauge of how many pieces of information a processor can handle at any one time.

What are the dangers?

Potentially they are enormous. Hackers who know what they're doing could, for example, use Meltdown to gain access to all information stored on a remote server, or cloud, so long as they rent space on the same server.

The stakes are highest for the protection of sensitive data such as passwords, pictures, personal documents and e-mails.

Cloud storage sites represent a particularly grave risk because once such a server is vulnerable, so are all data hosted there.

This is why Microsoft, Amazon or OVH have been scrambling to install updates to restore data protection on their servers.

Intel and AMD announce first Core i5 and i7 chips with Radeon graphics

  Intel and AMD announce first Core i5 and i7 chips with Radeon graphics Back in November, longtime rivals Intel and AMD shocked the computing world when the two companies announced that they’d be teaming up to create laptop chips that combined Intel’s Core line of processors with AMD’s Radeon graphics. And now at CES 2018, the first fruits of that partnership have been revealed, in the form of a pair of Intel Core i5 and i7 chips powered by discrete AMD Radeon RX Vega M GPUs. Along with the processor and GPU, each unit also has 4GB of HMB2 VRAM onboard, which Intel says should help drastically save space internally for laptops while increasing battery life.

As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like "Spectre" or These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices.

As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like. AP Explains: Who's affected by computer chip security flaw 0.

Experts point out, however, that it takes a very high level of technical skill to exploit the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, limiting the risks somewhat.

Michael Schwartz, an IT expert quoted in German daily Tagesspiegel Friday, said that a hacker must find out which programmes are currently running before triggering an assault, "which is why it's not that easy to launch mass attacks".

What possible protection?

For now, the only way to beef up defences is to install the security updates offered by the chip makers themselves, or by the operating systems providers: Microsoft for Windows, Apple for iOS and Google for Android and Linux.

These updates for now mostly concern Meltdown. Spectre appears, for now, to be more difficult to patch.

Either way, these updates are little more than tinkering. The safest solution would be to upgrade to a last-generation processor, a switch that will take much longer to implement because it only happens when users buy new devices.

In the meantime retail users, said Schwartz, "shouldn't panic and just behave as they would normally.

"If you follow the usual security recommendations and don't open unknown attachments or click on strange links, then you are in no immediate danger."

End of a chip boom? Memory chip price drop spooks investors .
<p>After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, a sudden drop in some memory prices, followed by Samsung Electronics Co's disappointing profit estimate, is causing jitters among investors who had bet the chip boom would last at least another year.</p>Amid news that the market has started losing some steam - prices of high-end flash memory chips, which are widely used in smartphones, dropped nearly 5 percent in the fourth quarter - some analysts now expect the industry's growth rate will fall by more than half this year to 30 percent.

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