Published: Tue, January 30, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

Microsoft Disables Spectre Variant 2 Patch Via Unscheduled Update

Microsoft Disables Spectre Variant 2 Patch Via Unscheduled Update

Given the second variant of the Spectre flaw is not easily exploited by hackers, having a machine that doesn't crash randomly is probably a safer bet than using a buggy processor patch. The problem for some people, including Linus Torvalds, was that Intel's initial response was lackluster.

Microsoft released an update over the weekend that disables a patch to Intel central processing units after reports that the patch caused unexpected reboots and other other problems.

Microsoft pushed an unscheduled update to its Windows customers that will disable the patch that was supposed to mitigate the Spectre variant 2 (CVE 2017-5715 Branch Target Injection) CPU flaw. Anyway, this should roll back the Intel patch that was causing reboots if you have it impacting any important boxes. The chipmaker asked that users stop applying the issued fix on January 22. According to Intel, the new firmware "may introduce [a] higher-than-expected [number of] reboots and other unpredictable system behavior" on Broadwell and Haswell processors. READ NEXT:Report: Microsoft building new "modern" Windows 10 version For PC users, this is likely to confuse the situation around Meltdown and Spectre even further.

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that "people familiar with the matter" said Intel initially told a small group of customers, including some Chinese technology companies, about the flaws, but didn't give the US government the same courtesy when the semiconductor giant learned about Spectre and Meltdown situations.

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The update can be downloaded from Microsoft's Update Catalog site. Today, a latest report from The Wall Street Journal suggested that the company has not immediately informed the United States government about the issues. According to Wall Street Journal's sources, they claim that Intel initially reached out to a handful of customers about the vulnerabilities, including Chinese tech companies like Lenovo and Alibaba, but failed to first reach out to the U.S. government.

But addressing the security flaw has not exactly been a smooth process.

The company's spokesperson said that standard and well-established way of disclosure is to operate with industry participants to find solutions and install fixes before publication.

If the ignominy of having to deal with a design flaw of their chips isn't enough, Intel is now in the midst of another controversy that revolves around whom it contacted first to reveal the design flaw.

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