Intel Warned Chinese Firms of 'Meltdown' Bug Before Telling US Government

Intel Warned Chinese Companies of Chip Flaws Before US Government

For Intel, "America First" might not have applied to whom it told first when it discovered the now-infamous chip flaws that have been dubbed Spectre and Meltdown.

Claims that some Chinese companies may have had knowledge about security flaws in Intel chips before the USA government is "troublesome", said Republican Congressman Gregory Walden. The problem for some people, including Linus Torvalds, was that Intel's initial response was lackluster.

Intel has reported issues with recently released microcode meant to address "Spectre variant 2" termed as "CVE 2017-5715 Branch Target Injection".

Microsoft's latest security update has blocked Intel's patches for the Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities, on the basis that Intel itself has acknowledged flaws in the software updates. Intel hasn't disclosed the root cause of the reboot issues, the company has only admitted that the patch affects the performance of Broadwell, Haswell and even the newest processors. The company last week publicly admitted the reboot issues in a security update but then buried its separate admission about potential data corruption inside its financial results. The chipmaker asked that users stop applying the issued fix on January 22.

Pending the arrival of those fixes, however, Microsoft's out-of-band security update, designated KB4078130, will disable Intel's fix for CVE-2017-5715.

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Microsoft's updates are aimed at Windows Server users as well as consumers with Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

"There are no known reports to indicate that this Spectre variant 2 (CVE 2017-5715) has been used to attack customers", Microsoft concludes. There are a pair of Knowledge Base articles that walk users through this manual process here and here. Intel, meanwhile, told customers last week to refrain from installing current firmware updates created to counter the threats until further instructions. They worry that the information might have been provided to the Chinese government, which could have exploited the bugs to gather intelligence about the US.

Intel took another knock over the weekend for reportedly disclosing Meltdown and Spectre to Chinese customers like Lenovo and Alibaba before it even told the USA government.

Intel's first attempt at mitigating two major vulnerabilities in its microprocessors led to PC reboot and behavior problems, so Microsoft has come out with Windows patches to fix Intel's fixes.

The company's spokesperson said that standard and well-established way of disclosure is to operate with industry participants to find solutions and install fixes before publication.

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