Solarquest

Moderator
Staff member
Malware Hunter
Verified
Ever since the Spectre and Meltdown series of security flaws were disclosed, there have been questions about just how secure the modern CPUs we use can be. At the same time, the difference in which companies were exposed to which specific attacks created confusion about just how to weigh the evidence. Or, to put it bluntly — was Spectre really only a problem for Intel, with incidental exposure for other companies?

A group of Google researchers has an answer to this question, and it’s not one people are going to like. We quote:
Vulnerabilities from speculative execution are not processor bugs but are more properly considered fundamental design flaws, since they do not arise from errata. Troublingly, these fundamental design flaws were overlooked by top minds for decades. Our paper shows these leaks are not only design flaws, but are in fact foundational, at the very base of theoretical computation.
The full research is online and while the language and code are dense, the conclusions are not. Modern microprocessors are susceptible to side channel attacks because speculative execution creates openings for these attacks to exist. Branch prediction and speculative execution are often discussed simultaneously, but there are other types of speculation that don’t involve branch prediction. And there’s no way to protect current CPUs from all of the various permutations inherent to all of these attacks.
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plat1098

Level 5
Verified
OK, I'm thinking we're never going to be completely free of these types of exploits despite having applied the microcode when it became available. Even the latest CPUs, I don't fully trust that they're vulnerability-free despite claims to the contrary. Business as usual and keep one's act clean, what else can you do, besides go to a Linux OS? By the way, can a side-channel exploit occur in a Linux environment with an Intel or affected processor?
 

Weebarra

Level 15
Verified
are AMD processors safer?
I believe they are the safer option @Brie but hopefully someone with more knowledge can answer that with more accuracy than me. I went looking at laptops yesterday and this exact question was on my mind so instead of buying anything, i left with nothing as i was well aware of the spectre/meltdown/intel debacle but i wasn't 100% sure of the AMD situation hence the reason i still have my old creaky and cranky lappy. :rolleyes:
 

Solarquest

Moderator
Staff member
Malware Hunter
Verified
Yesterday I saw some weird Intel programs running on one of my desktops (ISA, IME...)... I started googling....Intel security assist, AMT, Intel ME....read about the many security vulnerabilities the ME has ... I then checked AMD ..its secure processor also has security flaws ...
Then I read about the vulnerabilities below and checked for confirmation that fixes had been released... I couldn't find any...


Both are "lazy and slow" in fixing vulnerabilities.... personally I would buy an AMD now mostly because I saw too many issues with Intel CPUs& ME lately and few, late, partial updates (not all cpus/bugs were fixed) and not clear and easy update process.
 

SHvFl

Level 35
Content Creator
Trusted
Verified
I believe they are the safer option @Brie but hopefully someone with more knowledge can answer that with more accuracy than me. I went looking at laptops yesterday and this exact question was on my mind so instead of buying anything, i left with nothing as i was well aware of the spectre/meltdown/intel debacle but i wasn't 100% sure of the AMD situation hence the reason i still have my old creaky and cranky lappy. :rolleyes:
Spectre and whatever should be the least of your worries as even software patches are ok. Think about what specs you need, the quality of the build, upgradability and your budget and go with that. Getting paranoid about things that you can't control is a waste of time. If you need help selecting a laptop pm me here or you know where.
 
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HarborFront

Level 44
Content Creator
Verified
They are going to remove flaws only by software's not hardware
Current Whisky Lake cpus have some In-Socket (hardware-based) protection besides software microcodes.

Upcoming Ice Lake and beyond will have more In-Socket protections. Software microcodes will also be a part of the protection as well.


Hardware-based protections will NOT fix everything but it is good to know that more is being done to protect the user
 
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Burrito

Level 9

I think the vulnerabilities will always be there, but those vulnerabilities are not exploited by an ordinary person (that's my peace of mind).
It's my personal opinion and it can be wrong.:giggle:
Yes, that is it.

There will always be vulnerabilities. The nation-state hackers will always locate or create little secret ways in.. Many of those vulnerabilities... unless somebody is attacking you specifically, it will not affect you.

Other vulnerabilities can be compensated for with 3rd party software and techniques.

And a few... just like in the rest of life... you are vulnerable.

We all are vulnerable just walking down the street. Like in the cyber world, we just use good judgment and mitigate threats.
 

Burrito

Level 9
The Problem is pretty big... and pretty hard to patch apparently.

Hard to know if AMD chips are more safe.



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I run both AMD and Intel chips. What I clearly see is.... that the problem is big, hard to patch, and might not be solved in a clean and efficient way.
 

Vasudev

Level 27
Verified
Yesterday I saw some weird Intel programs running on one of my desktops (ISA, IME...)... I started googling....Intel security assist, AMT, Intel ME....read about the many security vulnerabilities the ME has ... I then checked AMD ..its secure processor also has security flaws ...
Then I read about the vulnerabilities below and checked for confirmation that fixes had been released... I couldn't find any...


Both are "lazy and slow" in fixing vulnerabilities.... personally I would buy an AMD now mostly because I saw too many issues with Intel CPUs& ME lately and few, late, partial updates (not all cpus/bugs were fixed) and not clear and easy update process.
And slowdowns are real on Intel, I disabled Spectre protection in OS and relying on BIOS microcode. With AMD Ryzen the slowdown is NIL and enabling spectre patch on 8th gen and below will get the CPU speed to be similar to Ryzen's.
 

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