Quantcast
Connect with us

Security flaws put virtually all phones, computers at risk

Published

on

hacker

By Douglas Busvine and Stephen Nellis

FRANKFURT/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Security researchers on Wednesday disclosed a set of security flaws that they said could let hackers steal sensitive information from nearly every modern computing device containing chips from Intel Corp, Advanced Micro Devices Inc and ARM Holdings.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the bugs is specific to Intel but another affects laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and internet servers alike. Intel and ARM insisted that the issue was not a design flaw, but it will require users to download a patch and update their operating system to fix.

“Phones, PCs, everything are going to have some impact, but it’ll vary from product to product,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday afternoon.

Researchers with Alphabet Inc’s Google Project Zero, in conjunction with academic and industry researchers from several countries, discovered two flaws.

The first, called Meltdown, affects Intel chips and lets hackers bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s memory, potentially letting hackers read a computer’s memory and steal passwords. The second, called Spectre, affects chips from Intel, AMD and ARM and lets hackers potentially trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information.

ADVERTISEMENT

The researchers said Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp had patches ready for users for desktop computers affected by Meltdown. Microsoft declined to comment and Apple did not immediately return requests for comment.

Daniel Gruss, one of the researchers at Graz University of Technology who discovered Meltdown, called it “probably one of the worst CPU bugs ever found” in an interview with Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gruss said Meltdown was the more serious problem in the short term but could be decisively stopped with software patches. Spectre, the broader bug that applies to nearly all computing devices, is harder for hackers to take advantage of but less easily patched and will be a bigger problem in the long term, he said.

Speaking on CNBC, Intel’s Krzanich said Google researchers told Intel of the flaws “a while ago” and that Intel had been testing fixes that device makers who use its chips will push out next week. Before the problems became public, Google on its blog said Intel and others planned to disclose the issues on Jan. 9. Google said it informed the affected companies about the “Spectre” flaw on June 1, 2017 and reported the “Meltdown” flaw after the first flaw but before July 28, 2017.

The flaws were first reported by tech publication The Register. It also reported that the updates to fix the problems could causes Intel chips to operate 5 percent to 30 percent more slowly. (http://bit.ly/2CsRxkj)

ADVERTISEMENT

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

“Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits,” Intel said in a statement. “Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”

ARM spokesman Phil Hughes said that patches had already been shared with the companies’ partners, which include many smartphone manufacturers.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This method only works if a certain type of malicious code is already running on a device and could at worst result in small pieces of data being accessed from privileged memory,” Hughes said in an email.

AMD chips are also affected by at least one variant of a set of security flaws but that it can be patched with a software update. The company said it believes there “is near zero risk to AMD products at this time.”

Google said in a blog post that Android phones running the latest security updates are protected, as are its own Nexus and Pixel phones with the latest security updates. Gmail users do not need to take any additional action to protect themselves, but users of its Chromebooks, Chrome web browser and many of its Google Cloud services will need to install updates.

ADVERTISEMENT

Amazon Web Services, a cloud computing service used by businesses, said that most of its internet servers were already patched and the rest were in the process of being patched.

The defect affects the so-called kernel memory on Intel x86 processor chips manufactured over the past decade, The Register reported citing unnamed programmers, allowing users of normal applications to discern the layout or content of protected areas on the chips.

That could make it possible for hackers to exploit other security bugs or, worse, expose secure information such as passwords, thus compromising individual computers or even entire server networks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dan Guido, chief executive of cyber security consulting firm Trail of Bits, said that businesses should quickly move to update vulnerable systems, saying he expects hackers to quickly develop code they can use to launch attacks that exploit the vulnerabilities. “Exploits for these bugs will be added to hacker’s standard toolkits,” said Guido.

Shares in Intel were down by 3.4 percent following the report but nudged back up 1.2 percent to $44.70 in after-hours trading while shares in AMD were up 1 percent to $11.77, shedding many of the gains they had made earlier in the day when reports suggested its chips were not affected.

It was not immediately clear whether Intel would face any significant financial liability arising from the reported flaw.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The current Intel problem, if true, would likely not require CPU replacement in our opinion. However the situation is fluid,” Hans Mosesmann of Rosenblatt Securities in New York said in a note, adding it could hurt the company’s reputation.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt and Stephen Nellis and Salvador Rodriguez in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto and Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here’s why Trump’s rabid base will never see the light: They’ve turned to the ‘dark side’

Published

on

In a scorching piece for the Washington Post, columnist Colbert King made the case that there is no sense in wasting time trying to convince rabid supporters of Donald Trump that he is a racist or a white supremacist because that is part of his appeal to them.

Under a heading, "Don’t waste your breath trying to convince Trump supporters he’s repugnant," the longtime political observer cites the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes song, " If You Don't Know Me By Now," as "instructive" as to why his base is unreachable.

Continue Reading

Facebook

‘Very good’ White House discussions on Afghan peace deal: Trump

Published

on

The White House signaled progress Friday in preparations for a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, saying that discussions between President Donald Trump and top advisors went "very well."

Trump met at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course with national security advisors including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, the White House said.

Also present were national security point man John Bolton and the US special envoy for the talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Hong Kong protesters kick off new weekend of rallies

Published

on

Hong Kong democracy activists kicked off a weekend of fresh protests on Saturday in a major test for the movement following criticism over an airport protest earlier this week -- and as concerns mount over Beijing's next move.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the international finance hub into crisis, with the communist-ruled mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions "terrorist-like".

Activists are billing two planned rallies on Saturday and Sunday as a way to show Beijing and the city's unelected leaders that their movement still enjoys broad public support, despite increasingly violent tactics deployed by a minority of hardcore protesters that have cast a shadow.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image