Intel Faced With ‘PR Nightmare’ After Catastrophic Chip Exploit

A report that Intel chips are vulnerable to hackers raised concerns about the company’s main products and brand.

On Tuesday, the technology website The Register said a bug lets some software gain access to parts of a computer’s memory that are set aside to protect things like passwords. All computers with Intel chips from the past 10 years appear to be affected, the report said, and patches to Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OS X operating systems will be required. The security updates may slow down older machinery by as much as 30 percent, according to The Register.

Flaws in the designs of microprocessors, which go through rigorous testing and verification, are usually easily fixed by patches in the code that they use to communicate with the rest of the computer. But if the error can’t be fixed easily in software, it could be necessary to redesign the chip, which can be extremely costly and time consuming.

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