Chip security flaws have whole world rushing for fixes

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By BLOOMBERG

The chip flaws called Meltdown and Spectre are making billions of computing devices from Intel Corp-based computers to Apple Inc-run Macs, to smartphones and tablets vulnerable to data theft.

The architectural flaws in chips from Arm Holdings, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc were discovered by security researchers at Google’s Project Zero.

The tech experts at the search engine titan warned the flaws would open up the doors to hacking and data theft.

Tech giants like Intel and Apple are releasing fixes including to the Mac OS operating system.

Billions of devices run on the chips produced by these microprocessor giants.

LGMS Services Sdn Bhd CEO Fong Choong Fook said the flaws will enable hackers to read information from computer and mobile devices.

“Sensitive data may include your username and password, as well as your personal data in the device.

“All commonly used personal computers and mobile devices on the market these days use these chips — and all of them are vulnerable.

“In other words, there’s no way to prevent hackers from using these flaws to steal your data until the chip providers roll out fixes,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Fong warned the stolen data could be on the black market or used to demand ransom.

Alarm over the Meltdown and Spectre mess had users around the globe updating their systems.

Experts have also advised users to update their web browsers.

Fong said users can take steps to protect their data.

“All devices must be kept up-to-date. For instance, installing anti-virus programmes and updating them,” he said, adding that open and unsecured wireless connection networks are also potential threats to security.

“I recommend using trusted connections only,” he said.

Moreover, he said scam and phishing emails are something to look for — in any circumstance, it can create a doorway for hackers to make a move.

Meanwhile, fixes are being rolled out immediately by system providers to tackle this issue globally.

“System providers like Microsoft Corp and Apple are releasing patches and people must install them immediately,” Fong said.

After being informed of the mat ter, Intel has responded that the issue is not a design flaw, and has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate this problem.

“Any performance impacts are workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” Intel said in a statement.