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Intel: Meltdown and Spectre patches to be released this month

Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel, has promised patches for ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ exploits covering all hardware by the end of January.

Krzanich made the claim during the keynote to the CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada – he had no doubt originally intended to lead on the company’s technology, rather than what Intel is doing about the chip-security vulnerabilities revealed last week. 

The flaws could enable sophisticated attackers to surreptitiously glean privileged information – such as passwords and decryption keys – from system memory. 

While CPUs designed by AMD and ARM have also been affected by the flaws, which Krzanich was keen to point out on Monday, Intel is the company most affected by the exploits. The Meltdown flaw, which is widely regarded as the most serious, is specific to Intel. 

During his keynote, Krzanich promised that the company will patch “90 per cent” of affected processors made in the past five years by the end of this week, adding that the remaining 10 per cent would see fixes by the end of the month.

While Intel previously said that these patches would not create issues with computer slowdown, Krzanich admitted that the impact will be “workload dependent”, suggesting that some users will be affected worse than others.

Related: Intel hit with three class-action suits over Meltdown and Spectre

“We believe the performance impact of these updates is highly workload dependent,” Krzanich said.

“We expect some may have a larger impact than others, so we’ll continue working with the industry to minimize the impact on those workloads over time.”

Krzanich reiterated Intel’s stance that there’s no evidence either exploit has been used to steal customer data and said that the company is “working tirelessly on these issues to ensure it stays that way”.

According to reports, Intel also on Monday informed staffers about the creation of a new security group following the disclosure of the vulnerabilities. 

In a memo seen by the Oregonian, Krzanich told employees: “It is critical that we continue to work with the industry, to excel at customer satisfaction, to act with uncompromising integrity, and to achieve the highest standards of excellences.

“Simply put, I want to ensure we continue to respond appropriately, diligently, and with a customer-first attitude.”

The group, called Intel Product Assurance and Security, will reportedly be headed up Intel human resources chief Leslie Culbertson.

No further details have yet been revealed, and Intel has yet to comment. 

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