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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)

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Passwords on Sensitive Account Are Still Easy To Guess

The most common name to be used in passwords was "Ashley", followed by "Michael", "Daniel", "Jessica" and "Charlie".

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"Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band," Pixabay

Millions of people are using easy-to-guess passwords on sensitive accounts, with “123456” being the most widely-used on breached accounts, suggests a security study.

The study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) helped to uncover the gaps in cyber-knowledge that could leave people in danger of being exploited, the BBC reported on Sunday.

For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.

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Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.
Pixabay

Top of the list was “123456”, appearing in more than 23 million passwords. The second-most popular string, “123456789”, was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included “qwerty”, “password” and “1111111”.

The most common name to be used in passwords was “Ashley”, followed by “Michael”, “Daniel”, “Jessica” and “Charlie”.

When it comes to Premier League football teams in passwords, “Liverpool” came first and “Chelsea” second. “Blink-182” topped the charts of music acts.

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For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used. Pixabay

People who use well-known words or names for a password put themselves people at risk of being hacked, said Ian Levy, technical director of the NCSC.

“Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,” he said.

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Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.

“We typically haven’t done a very good job of that either as individuals or as the organisations asking us to register with them.” (IANS)