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Intel's Security Problem

|Includes: Intel Corporation (INTC)
Summary

Intel recently revealed a security issue.

This issue is being trivialized as a simple firmware fix.

The sheer magnitude of the impact makes this a big problem.

A recent Seeking Alpha news clipping revealed that Intel (INTC) had finally admitted that it has a security problem. A fix is suggested involving a firmware update.

Discussion regarding this issue has been trivialized by various participants. Here's a comment from yours truly pointing at the scope:

"Affected chips include the 6th, 7th and 8th generation Core family, three Xeon processors, and Apollo Lake Atom and Pentium."

Oh, is that all?

A comment from xxavatarxx, a long term Intel supporter, who completely trivializes the issue:

Yes Intel is down, and so it the stock market.

It has no correlation to anything in this article.

And, a bit of back and forth between myself and another user, KIA, who seems to think updating firmware is no big deal. First, my own response to another poster's comment:

Reading the very crafted wording of Intel's releases sort of wraps the issue behind inscrutability and a solution... and nobody mentions how much impact may be involved to apply the purported fix to craploads of production servers.

To which KIA replies:

Firmware patches are neither new nor magic. SOP for IT pros.

I'm sure many of you can see that this is missing the point. This is followed by a rant from yours truly about the implied impact due to the global install base of the given processors - not to mention those being sold today to people who may not be aware of this downplayed issue.

Of course, but having to spend manpower time on that is not free. It is not free to cycle through production systems such that reliable services have no down time. Neither is it free if human error causes a problem during the process.

It's not even free to have people spend time bringing in their laptop or instead not have use of their desktop during the fix.

Given the number of processors out there someone should write an article detailing how much this will cost to actually fix... and the probability that it will be fixed to any comprehensive degree in a worldwide manner.

Not to mention, the cyber-insurance industry is going to have to do some adjustment for Intel processors. The scope of this is not ho-hum due to the massive global scale... not because it's "hard" to apply the fix.

And, you might be asking why. The reason is because now every hacker worth ten cents knows about this issue and that at the moment almost everyone is vulnerable -- it's an early christmas for hackers including those of the industrial espionage variety.

Security folks are very picky. So are legal folks who may represent entities that have a fiduciary duty to protect sensitive information. We're either going to have a massive and costly invisible effort to fix this issue, an ongoing series of hacking incidents based on this flaw, or both.

Intel might find it needs to set aside funds to deal with legal issues due to damages caused by defective products; especially those sold during the lengthy period between when Intel should have known about the problem and when it issued a public notice regarding a fix.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.