Intel told Chinese firms of Meltdown flaws before the United States government

Posted January 30, 2018

To prevent users from losing data, the Windows update disables Intel's fix that addresses CVE-2017-5715, otherwise known as the Variant 2 Spectre attack.

An Intel spokesman wouldn't detail who the company had informed, but said that the company couldn't notify everyone (including United States officials) in time because Meltdown and Spectre had been revealed early.

Intel last week confirmed reports that the firmware updates it was pushing out to protect against Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were faulty and were cause reboot issues.

As has been revealed in a new report, Intel had first got in touch with Lenovo and Alibaba of the flaw in its chips and the potential security risk it poses. Intel is testing the new update on all processor to ensure that no performance and reboot issues occur in the patched systems.

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Other companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft were also notified beforehand which is why they were so prompt to release statements as soon as the matter was leaked by The Register.

Spectre and Meltdown are vulnerabilities in modern chip design that could allow attackers to bypass system protections on almost every recent PC, server and smartphone-allowing hackers to read sensitive information, such as passwords, from memory.

Microsoft has disabled a recent Intel fix for the Spectre CPU flaw after the update caused some systems to unexpectedly reboot.

Intel's solution for the attack has caused both Dell and HP to pull the new BIOS updates that contain Intel's new code, and they plan to reissue them only once the buggy fix has been addressed.

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The update was written for all supported versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, as well as the corresponding Server editions. The news about the chip flaws was unleashed on January 3, the time Intel was preparing to announce to the public about the chip flaw discovery.

For now, the KB4078130 security update is only available to download from the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

"While we've made progress, I am acutely aware that we have more to do", Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said on the call to discuss its fourth quarter results.

Disabling or not installing a fix for Spectre variant 2 should be considered a temporary strategy, Microsoft says. Intel, meanwhile, told customers last week to refrain from installing current firmware updates created to counter the threats until further instructions.

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