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January 30, 2018

Microsoft exorcises faulty Intel Spectre patch

This Microsoft update to tackle the problematic Intel patch will have to be manually downloaded.

By Tom Ball

Microsoft has acted in providing an emergency update to fix problems caused by an Intel firmware patch intended to be a solution to the Spectre flaw.

The Intel patch has been causing computers to reboot frequently due to a glitch, but Microsoft has expressed concern that the faulty software could cause bigger problems that just inconvenience.

In a Windows support post, the company said: “Our own experience is that system instability can in some circumstances cause data loss or corruption.”

Intel itself stepped forward with the warning that its security updates had been found to cause glitches, sharing the advice to wait until PC manufacturers had issued updates to counteract the problems.

Microsoft also explained in the post that other unpredictable system behaviour has been observed, in addition to the higher reboot rate. Microsoft is also set to provide a new registry key setting specifically for devices affected by the problematic patch, designed to provide IT teams with manual control.

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This activity has become a part of the ongoing saga caused by the Spectre and Meltdown chip flaws, at the centre of which has been Intel. AMD and ARM were also drawn into the crisis, finding that its chips were also affected to some extent.

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Security researchers originally uncovered the flaws, leading to the revelation that the problem was vastly widespread. It was soon realised that even an almost full array of Apple devices were also initially left vulnerable to the flaws.

The concern was that hackers could potentially leverage these flaws to steal valuable personal data including card details. In the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre calmed the situation when it said it had not yet found any examples of hackers successfully working with Spectre and Meltdown.

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