Intel's CEO publicly addresses its big chip vulnerabilities, says response has been 'remarkable'

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times
  • Intel has been under fire since it was revealed that many of its processors have a vulnerability that could allow attackers to steal data.
  • Krzanich said on Monday that the exploits haven’t been used to steal customer data.
  • He thanked the industry for its “remarkable” response, with Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon getting the first set of patches out very soon after it was disclosed.

LAS VEGAS – Last week, Google revealed “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” a pair of big security holes in pretty much every processor. These vulnerabilities could make it possible for a hacker to access sensitive information, like photos or passwords, from almost every PC, phone, and tablet.

Meltdown, in particular, affects nearly every Intel processor, including the chips used in laptops and servers. That’s why the world eagerly anticipated Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, the largest technology trade show. Would Intel’s CEO offer any additional details, or address the issue at all?

Turns out, he would, and he did, right at the beginning of his presentation: “Before we start, I want to take a moment to thank the industry for addressing the recent security findings,” Krzanich said. “The collaboration among so many companies to address this industry wide issue, has been truly remarkable.”

Indeed, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, and others have rushed operating system updates out the door to mitigate the potential impacts of Meltdown and Spectre. Krzanich noted that there’s no evidence that Meltdown or Spectre have ever been used to steal customer data in real life, and that Intel plans to keep it that way.

But even as he was thanking these other companies, he pointed that it affects different processor architectures – not just Intel’s. While Meltdown primarily affects Intel processors, some ARM processors are also vulnerable. And most modern ARM and AMD chips are vulnerable to Spectre, in addition to almost every Intel chip made in the last 20 years.

Krzanich repeated the company’s claims from late last week that Intel will have patched 90% of its recently-made processors by the end of the week, with the rest getting covered by the end of January. While he says that some customers have seen their computers’ performance degrade after getting these patches, he says that the magnitude of the drop will be determined by the kind and intensity of work you’re trying to do with it.

All in all, Krzanich says that the best thing you can do to protect yourself from Meltdown and Spectre is to stay on top of your device’s software updates and install them as soon as they become available.

“The best think you can do to make your your data remains safe is to apply updates from your operating system vendor as soon as they become available,” Krzanich said.

Then Krzanich quickly moved onto his prepared remarks, including announcements of deals with Ferrari and Nissan for self-driving car components, as well as a partnership with Paramount Pictures to make virtual reality videos.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.