Earlier in the week, it was discovered that the two flaws exist in the company's chips dating back a decade or more. Intel has since been scrambling to clean things up on both the PR and technical side. Through Meltdown and Spectre hackers can access vital data stored in memory. More specifically, Meltdown removes the barrier between user applications and the sensitive kernel of the operating system, while Spectre, which is also reportedly found in AMD and ARM processors, can trick vulnerable applications into leaking the contents of their memory. Remnants of data processed by the CPU does remain and hackers can use malicious programs to leverage these flaws and access that precious data. In addition to security vulnerabilities, reports are showing performance is also impacted by patching some of these exploits, slowing CPU processes by up to 30%.
Holding Intel’s feet to the fire, Torvald suggests that Intel address the problem head-on. “I think somebody inside of Intel needs to really take a long hard look at their CPUs, and actually admit that they have issues instead of writing PR blurbs that say that everything works as designed..."Or is Intel basically saying we are committed to selling you shit forever and ever, and never fixing anything?" he asked. "Because if that's the case, maybe we should start looking towards the ARM64 people more," added the bold and often outspoken open source software developer.
Torvalds may have something there. Looking beyond the fire and brimstone, we can all agree, that quickly addressing the problem with open eyes and effectively dispatching Meltdown and Spectre will lead to more secure products for us all down the road.
This one is sure to get more interesting and we will continue to report on the issue as it develops. In the meantime, be sure to check out our quick guide showing how you can fight to keep your system secure from these flaws.