Intel tells users to stop deploying buggy Spectre patch, citing technical issues

23 January, 2018, 02:17 | Author: Marie Harrington
  • Meltdown and Spectre fallout leads to first RC9 of a Linux Kernel since 2011

In case you missed the previous episodes of this messy saga, Intel first admitted that recent firmware updates for Haswell and Broadwell processors could cause "higher system reboots."

Patching certain variants of the Spectre vulnearbility requires Intel to rewrite processor firmware, a challenging task that's much harder than patching the security flaws at a browser and operating system level.

Intel says that it has root-caused the issue on Haswell and Broadwell systems and that it has already issued a version of the fix to hardware partners, which are now testing it. Intel's official advisory to hardware partners hasn't changed: Don't issue anymore of the bugged update and start testing the new one.

The chip maker began investigating its patch after users reported machines were unexpectedly rebooting after installing the update. There was no indication of when Intel will release an updated fix, although the industry is very concerned about the ability of attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities.

This message is specifically for OEM's, cloud service providers, system manufacturers software vendors and end users.

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In a blog post, Intel said new patches for Broadwell and Haswell-based computers - chips that are two generations removed from the current Skylake design - are being tested by "industry partners", which nearly assuredly includes the Big Three cloud computing providers in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google.

The company published a full list of Intel-based platforms that are impacted by this problem, and it's quite long.

On a positive note, Intel has identified the root cause of this problem for Broadwell and Haswell platforms and "made good progress in developing a solution to address it", Shenoy wrote.

In short, while computing device vendors and other Intel partners work with Intel to fix these issues at the top level and hopefully avoid these faulty patches, the firm also asking end users to stay away from the latest processor updates. It may be that Haswell and Broadwell fixes will arrive soon, but that the other processors will take longer to fix.

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