Wednesday 23 January 2019

Explainer: Why millions of Irish PCs using Intel chips are 'vulnerable to hacking'

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A serious problem in computer chips is threatening millions of home PCs and work machines in Ireland and around the world.

What has happened?

A security flaw has been found in computer chips. The details of the bug in the chips has yet to be disclosed.

The issue is said to affect the majority of computer processors made in the last decade.

Who is affected?

Millions of home PCs and work machines in Ireland and around the world could potentially be affected.

A statement from Intel, whose chips are present in most computers, said the problem "has the potential to improperly gather sensitive data from computing devices that are operating as designed".

However, Intel denied it was a flaw that was unique to Intel chips, as had been previously reported.

What damage could the fault do?

The fault enables attackers to steal information from a computer without the owner's knowledge. Experts say proposed fixes for the problem could zap computer battery life and slow a computer down by up to 30pc.

How did it come to light?

The issue came to light when testers disclosed the computing flaw to the IT news website, 'The Register'.

What is being done it get the matter resolved?

Microsoft and Apple are believed to be working on patches to guard against the danger.

Flaws in the design of microprocessors, which go through rigorous testing and verification, are usually easily fixed by patches in the code that they use to communicate with the rest of the computer.

"Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits," said the company statement.

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