Intel warned select customers of processor vulnerabilities before the US Government

Intel Warned Chinese Companies of Chip Flaws Before US Government

Microsoft on Saturday issued an out-of-band Windows security update that disabled a patch the company released earlier this month to protect personal computers from possible attacks leveraging one of the "Spectre" vulnerabilities.

IT vendors including Dell, HP and Lenovo have disclosed plans to return users to previous BIOS firmware versions to help eliminate the Intel microcode.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter and some of the companies involved", on Sunday reported that Intel warned "a small group of customers, including Chinese technology companies" about the chip flaws before going public with the information.

This is the second time this month Microsoft has issued a Windows update outside of its regular "Patch Tuesday" schedule.

However, Intel has assured that it is working on an updated solution for the security flaws that will not cause the systems to randomly reboot and the updated solution will roll out once the testing has been done.

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The good news is that the chip maker Intel has managed to identify the problem and they are working on a microcode firmware update that will also mitigate the Spectre security flaw but the performance wouldn't take a hit. It appears, however, that the fix may have caused more problems than it fixed, necessitating an emergency Windows patch from Microsoft to address data loss and corruption.

At least some of that criticism seems to have been validated, as Intel started pulling its Spectre v2 microcode patches last week because it was causing "higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior" on users' machines. The fix works on computers running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

As per the report, initial disclosures about the vulnerabilities were made to select large customers that included US companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, but also foreign companies such as ARM Holdings in the United Kingdom, along with Lenovo and Alibaba in China. Microsoft also said it's providing a way for advanced users to manually address the issue using changes to registry settings (details here).

The Windows update can be downloaded from Microsoft's Update Catalog portal. The CEO said security is the foremost priority for the company, foundational to their products and critical to the success of their data-centric strategy.

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