Critical vulnerability in Intel processors

Researchers from the Department of Computer Science have helped to expose a security flaw in Intel processors. More than 80 per cent of all computers and servers use these processors. The security flaw makes the hardware vulnerable to hackers.

"Our research focuses on designing secure computer processors, among other things," says Jo Van Bulck from the KU Leuven Department of Computer Science. "We have also been conducting fundamental research into attacks that do not have immediate implications in the real world but nevertheless contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge."

"Since the beginning of last year, we’ve been focusing on a new area of research that involves trying to discover security flaws in processors, as part of an international community of ethical hackers, in collaboration with several other universities. This is the second time that we’ve been able to expose a very serious security flaw, and this time, we were able to go really deep into the processors."

The vulnerability is a result of a fundamental design flaw, says Van Bulck. "This made it possible for hackers to steal all kinds of data, ranging from passwords to bank details."

The researchers gave Intel time to fix the vulnerability before coming forward with their findings. "For individual users who own a PC with an Intel processor, we recommend installing the update developed by the manufacturer. But to be absolutely safe, we need to develop new types of processors." 

Click here for more information about the Zombieload attack. 

Ine Van Houdenhove, translated by Katrien Bollen

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