Microsoft pushes out emergency patch to disable Intel's buggy Spectre fix

Nichole VegaJan 30, 2018

'Our own experience is that system instability can in some circumstances cause data loss or corruption.

Intel Corporation initially warned a handful of customers, including several Chinese technology companies, about the discovery of security flaws within its processor chips before notifying the us government, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Microsoft has now released an emergency Windows patch that disables Intel's fix for at least one vulnerability, Spectre.

Although Intel claimed it was making good progress toward developing an effective solution, the company recommended that users, OEMs, software vendors and cloud providers cease applying the problematic patch or "microcode" that alters a processors' firmware. This has raised concern as Intel's actions could have allowed the Chinese government to exploit the vulnerabilities to gather data before the patches were released.

Intel had confirmed two security flaws - and - in its chips that were vulnerable to hacking.

The company has been faced with the huge problem of coming out with a working fix for the Spectre and Meltdown security holes that were publicly disclosed a year ago, and judging from their current progress, a software-based solution will not provide a universal fix. The company has reported its fourth-quarter earnings estimates last week, after which the stock climbed about 10% despite the news regarding Meltdown and Spectre flaws continuing to trickle in. For the full list of devices, see Intel's microcode revision guidance. (Revelations went out then, even though a months-long coordinated effort had pegged January 9 as a global release date.) The security world promptly erupted, and enterprise IT scrambled to figure out what needed to be patched, which patches were available, and in what order those updates should be deployed. Three weeks ago, Microsoft briefly suspended its Windows update for AMD processors after it heard from some customers who said their machines would not boot up after the update.

"While we've made progress, I am acutely aware that we have more to do", Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said on the call to discuss its fourth quarter results. The point here is that the USA government wasn't notified first where they could have helped coordinate disclosures to ensure that enough companies were able to have fixes in place before news of these vulnerabilities spread like wildfire. Avoiding data loss or corruption is a priority, and with the Intel "fix", they are both a real possibility.

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