We saw two chip flaws emerge last week affecting both Intel and AMD. The problem with these particular flaws is that they are built into the chip architecture, which makes them challenging to patch.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such flaws. Among the previous chip flaws were the infamous Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities discovered in 2018. At the time, those flaws affected Intel, AMD, and ARM chips on devices going back more than 20 years.

The chip makers eventually came up with a mitigation technique, but it wasn’t a great feeling to know that such vulnerabilities were around for years unchecked.

This week, we have a couple of new flaws to worry about. Let’s look at what you’ll be up against with these latest announcements.

Here we go again

Engadget reported last week that AMD chips produced over the last 9 years have a flaw that allows data to leak out through the L2 cache. This is also known as a “side channel” attack. According to Engadget’s Jon Fingas, this exploit has been put to the test in labs, and the results aren’t good:

Unlike some side channel attacks, it hasn’t taken long to show how these exploits would work in the real world. The team took advantage of the flaws using JavaScript in common browsers like Chrome and Firefox, not to mention virtual machines in the cloud,” he wrote.

The other flaw involves Intel chips from the last five years. It’s not a decade or two, but still bad enough for companies with modern machines in operation. As Tom Warren of the Verge reports, this one is hard to fix and could allow hackers to get past encryption or DRM protections built into the chips:

Security firm Positive Technologies discovered the flaw, and is warning that it could break apart a chain of trust for important technology like silicon-based encryption, hardware authentication, and modern DRM protections.”

The fact is there is not much to be done, but sit back and wait for the chip companies to figure out how to solve the problem without sacrificing too much performance. Until then, you should be aware of these issues, and try to keep up with the latest news to the extent that you can.

Photo: vierra / Shutterstock

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Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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