Windows and Linux Hit by Intel Flaw

Windows and Linux Hit by Intel Flaw
Computers will run up to 30% slower once operating systems are patched to fix the chip-level bug.

(CCM) — A gaping security flaw has been discovered in the fundamental design of Intel microprocessors, according to a report in The Register.

In order to fix the bug, the Windows and Linux kernels — key parts of these operating systems — will have to be rewritten. The bad news is that the changes to the operating system kernels will involve a significant performance hit. This will vary according to task and processor model, but the bottom line is that computers powered by the affected Intel chips are likely to run between 5% and 30% slower once the security fix has been installed, according to the report. Apple's 64-bit macOS will be similarly affected.

Few details about the chip bug have been released yet, but it is believed to affect all modern Intel processors produced in the last decade, The Register says. It allows normal user programs — from database applications to JavaScript in web browsers — to discern the layout or contents of protected kernel memory areas to some extent, the report adds.

This could enable malware or JavaScript code running on malicious web pages to steal data such as passwords, login details, and files cached from disks from those protected kernel memory areas.

Patches for the Linux kernel are available now, and similar fixes for Windows are currently being tested and are likely to be rolled out in an upcoming Patch Tuesday. It is not known when Apple plans to issue a fix for its Mac computers.

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