Security

Intel CEO: New chips will have built-in protections against Meltdown, Spectre

Intel's profits were up in Q4 2017 despite the massive security issues, according to CEO Brian Krzanich.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Intel plans to release chips that offer built-in protections against Meltdown and Spectre attacks later in 2018.
  • Spectre and Meltdown exploit vulnerabilities in modern chip design that could allow attackers to get around system protections on nearly every PC, server, and smartphone.

Intel will release chips with built-in protections against the critical Meltdown and Spectre flaws later this year, according to CEO Brian Krzanich.

Krzanich made the announcement on Intel's Q4 2017 earnings call on Thursday. For those unfamiliar, Spectre and Meltdown are vulnerabilities in modern chip design that could allow attackers to get past system protections on nearly every recent PC, server, and smartphone. This could let criminals access sensitive information, such as passwords. The vulnerabilities affect operating systems and devices running on Intel processors developed in the past decade, including Windows, Macs, and Linux systems, as noted by our sister site ZDNet.

"We've been around the clock with our customers and partners to address the security vulnerability know as Spectre and Meltdown," Krzanich said on the call. "While we made progress, I'm acutely aware that we have more to do, we've committed to being transparent keeping our customers and owners appraised of our progress and through our actions, building trust."

SEE: Network security policy template (Tech Pro Research)

The company is working to incorporate "silicon-based changes" to products that will directly address the two threats to the hardware, Krzanich said. However, he did not detail exactly how the new chips will do this.

Intel, Arm, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were among those named in letters from the US House of Representatives, questioning the tech firms on why they did not disclose the Spectre and Meltdown flaws earlier, and highlighting the widespread problems with the emergency patches that were released.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds also referred to Intel's patches for the vulnerabilities as "garbage" this week, and called on the company to address their CPU issues.

Despite the massive security concerns, Q4 2017 was the best in Intel's history, Krzanich said on the call, as revenue was up 4% YOY. Growth was especially high in the company's Internet of Things (IoT) and data center units. It remains to be seen if the ongoing security issues will impact this quarter's performance.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from Spectre and Meltdown, click here.

Also see

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Image: Intel/Patrick Darling

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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