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Design flaw in Intel chips has huge security implications, says report

by Danny Zepeda | January 3, 2018January 3, 2018 12:00 pm EST

Nearly every Intel chip made in the past ten years has a major design flaw that allows normal programs to access protected kernel memory areas, which could potentially result in some major security problems.

According to The Register, the design flaw allows regular programs people use every day to gain access to content in the protected kernel memory. Kernel memory is intended to handle core components of the operating system and its interactions with the system hardware. This means that protected information like passwords, login keys and file cache have been left open for access to anybody with the right means.

The flaw is found in Intel x86-64 hardware, thus requiring a software update of the OS to fix the issue. Windows, Linux and macOS are the major computer operating systems that are affected.

But the news continues to get worse. Since the patch will require kernel memory to be isolated from user processes, performance on these machines is expected to take a giant hit. The Register speculates that users could see a performance drop anywhere from 5 to 30-percent for Linux and Windows computers. There’s still no word on how Macs are affected by the issue.

Some details of the flaw are being kept under wraps, so we won’t have a full grasp of the situation until more information is shared later this month. For the time being, software fixes are being worked on for Windows and Linux with a fix for Mac computers likely in the works as well.

We’ll keep you updated as more information comes about the issue.

The Register Gizmodo

Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...