Tuesday November 19, 2019
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Another Security flaw is Revealed By Intel in its Chips

Intel has disclosed a new variant of the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws in the chips that hackers may use to extract sensitive data from hundreds of millions of computers and mobile devices.

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The Taiwan semiconductor firm produces Apple's A11 chip that is in the iPhone X.
New computer chip vulnerabilities discovered. Pixabay

Intel has disclosed a new variant of the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws in the chips that hackers may use to extract sensitive data from hundreds of millions of computers and mobile devices.

Intel is calling the new strain — Speculative Store Bypass (Variant 4) — and it is similar to the earlier flaw that taps into many of the same security vulnerabilities that were first revealed in January.

However, this time around it uses a different method to extract sensitive information, CNET quoted Intel as saying.

The new vulnerability also includes firmware updates for CPUs and Intel has already delivered microcode updates for Speculative Store Bypass in beta form to original equipment manufacturers.

Intel is classifying Variant 4 as a medium risk because many of the exploits it uses in web browsers, like Safari, Edge, and Chrome were fixed in the original set of patches, according to a blog post from the company.

IoT devices will become affordable with the help of Microchips.
Microchips, Wikimedia Commons

Intel has promised that the patches would be rolled out broadly in the next few weeks. The firmware updates would set the Speculative Store Bypass protection to off-by-default.

“If enabled, we have observed a performance impact of approximately two-to-eight per cent based on overall scores for benchmarks,” Leslie Culbertson, Intel’s Security Chief, was quoted as saying.

As a result, end users would have to pick between security or optimal performance.

Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities have been causing problems to companies like Intel, Arm and AMD that are major producers of chips for computers, laptops and mobile devices.

While Meltdown impacts only Intel chips, Spectre affects all other chips, including ARM and AMD. The vulnerabilities allow attackers to read sensitive information on users’ CPU.

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While companies like Intel, Apple and Microsoft have issued updates to patch the flaws, the fixes have not always worked as intended, sometimes causing computer problems.

Earlier this year, following the news of the bugs getting out, all major tech players such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, including Intel, released security patches to help protect users from potential data theft. (IANS)

Next Story

Smart Bulbs Can Steal Personal Information Through Hacking

Now researchers have conducted a review of the security holes that exist in popular smart-light brands

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The owner might not know about the hack because the Hacking commands are communicated within the owner's home Wi-Fi network, without using the internet. Pixabay

Smart bulbs are expected to be a popular purchase. But could lighting your home open up your personal information to hackers? Now a new study from an Indian-origin researcher shows that the hacker’s next prime target could be that smart bulb for Hacking your Personal Information.

Some smart bulbs connect to a home network without needing a smart home hub, centralised hardware or software device where another internet of things (IoT) products communicate with each other.

Smart home hubs, which connect either locally or to the cloud, are useful for IoT devices that use the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols or Bluetooth, rather than Wi-Fi.

“Your smart bulb could come equipped with infrared capabilities, and most users don’t know that the invisible wave spectrum can be controlled. You can misuse those lights,” said study lead author Murtuza Jadliwala, Professor from the University of Texas at San Antonio in the US.

“Any data can be stolen: texts or images. Anything that is stored in a computer,” Jadliwala added.

Earlier this year Amazon’s Echo made global headlines when it was reported that consumers’ conversations were recorded and heard by thousands of employees.

Now researchers have conducted a review of the security holes that exist in popular smart-light brands.

According to the analysis, the next prime target could be the smart bulb that shoppers buy.

If these same bulbs are also infrared-enabled, hackers can send commands via the infrared invisible light emanated from the bulbs to either steal data or spoof other connected IoT devices on the home network, the study said.

The owner might not know about the hack because the hacking commands are communicated within the owner’s home Wi-Fi network, without using the internet.

Hacking
Smart bulbs are expected to be a popular purchase. But could lighting your home open up your personal information to hackers? Now a new study from an Indian-origin researcher shows that the hacker’s next prime target could be that smart bulb for Hacking Personal Information. Pixabay

Smart bulbs have moved beyond novelty to a lucrative mature market. Last year consumers spent close to $8 billion, and that amount is expected to more than triple to $28 billion in less than a decade.

“These bulbs are now poised to become a much more attractive target for exploitation even though they have very simple chips,” Jadliwala said.

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Jadliwala recommends that consumers opt for bulbs that come with a smart home hub rather than those that connect directly to other devices. (IANS)