Story image

Intel releases Spectre & Meltdown patches for some Skylake processors

12 Feb 2018

Intel has officially released patches to OEM customers and industry partners running Skylake-based platforms as efforts ramp up to properly patch the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities

Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754), affects all Intel processors and can enable hackers to gain privileged access to parts of a computer’s memory used by an application/program and the operating system (OS).

Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) affects AMD, ARM and Intel processors. It can allow attackers to steal information leaked in the kernel/cached files or data stored in the memory of running programs, such as credentials (passwords, login keys, etc.).

“The bottom line is that continued collaboration will create the fastest and most effective approaches to restoring customer confidence in the security of their data. This is what we all want and are striving to achieve,” commented Intel CEO Brian Krzanich when the vulnerabilities were originally disclosed in January.

The patching process for the vulnerabilities has not been a smooth ride, particularly for Intel. Last month it released updates that were causing system reboots for systems running Intel Broadwell and Haswell CPUs. 

While Intel found out what was causing the issue, patch rollout for all affected processors is taking time.

According to Intel’s latest update, it released production microcode updates for ‘several Skylake-based platforms’ and plans to release updates for more platforms in the coming days.

Reports suggest that the Skylake platforms are those with mobile Skylake and desktop Skylake chips. Patches for other chips and processors are still in the pipeline.

“We also continue to release beta microcode updates so that customers and partners have the opportunity to conduct extensive testing before we move them into production,” says Intel executive VP of the Data Center Group, Navin Shenoy.

Shenoy is quick to point out that most updates will be available through OEM firmware updates and it is critical for everyone to keep their systems up to date.

Shenoy says research has shown that there is often a significant lag between the time users receive updates and when those updates are actually installed.

“This is especially top-of-mind because new categories of security exploits often follow a similar lifecycle. This lifecycle tends to include new derivatives of the original exploit as security researchers – or bad actors – direct their time and energy at it. We expect this new category of side channel exploits to be no different,” Shenoy says.

Intel states there is a lot of work still to be done and it is committed to addressing the issues.

Opinion: BYOD can be secure with the right measures
Companies that embrace BYOD are giving employees more freedom to work remotely, resulting in increased productivity, cost savings, and talent retention.
Sonatype and HackerOne partner on open source vulnerability reporting
Without a standard for responsible disclosure, even those who want to disclose vulnerabilities responsibly can get frustrated with the process.
OutSystems and Boncode team up for better code analysis
The Boncode and OutSystems alliance aims to help organisations to build fast and feel comfortable that the work they're delivering is at peak quality levels.
Nuance biometrics fight back against fraud
Nuance Communications has crunched the numbers and discovered that it has prevented more than US$1 billion worth of fraud from being passed on to users of its Nuance Security Suite.
Attacks targeting Cisco Webex extension explode in popularity - WatchGuard
WatchGuard's Internet Security Report for Q4 2018 also finds growing use of a new sextortion phishing malware customised to individual victims.
Developing APAC countries most vulnerable to malware - Microsoft
“As cyberattacks continue to increase in frequency and sophistication, understanding prevalent cyberthreats and how to limit their impact has become an imperative.”
Worldwide spending on security to reach $103.1bil in 2019 - IDC
Managed security services will be the largest technology category in 2019.
Privacy: The real cost of “free” mobile apps
Sales of location targeted advertising, based on location data provided by apps, is set to reach $30 billion by 2020.