Intel hit with three class-action lawsuits over chip flaws

Huge Intel CPU Bug Allegedly Causes Kernel Memory Leak With Up To 30% Performance Hit

The Meltdown flaw is less serious and can be patched by software that is already being released by numerous major computer operating systems.

The bugs can be exploited to allow the memory content of a computer to be leaked, potentially exposing stored passwords and other sensitive data.

Researchers at Google's Project Zero and academic institutions including the Graz University of Technology in Austria discovered the problem previous year and disclosed it Wednesday. The company says that is "has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems", but it is not clear when - or whether - older devices will be treated to patches.

Intel said it has worked with other companies to verify the vulnerability and develop ways to fix or mitigate it.

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Intel is at the center of the problem because it supplies the processors used in numerous world's PCs. The flaw was thought to be much harder to fix, if fixable at all.

Most of the immediate fixes will be limited to the Meltdown bug.

While Spectre affects devices using chipsets from three leading chip manufacturers, Meltdown affects Intel-powered devices in particular and threatens devices manufactured over the past two decades. Computer chips made by AMD, Qualcomm and ARM are also vulnerable to the security flaw. By the end of next week, Intel hopes to have released updates for 90 percent of processors from the last five years. Pundits have said that computer performance could take as much as a 30% hit because of the way the security patch would have to change how processors function. ARM Holdings said it's working with Intel, AMD and operating system vendors to address the problem.

There are limits to what consumers can do now to protect their computers. The federal organization says that "fully removing the vulnerability" requires replacing the hardware already embedded in millions of computing devices.

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