Spectre flaw returns to haunt security experts: Hardware issue that affects almost every computer worldwide and could let hackers…. is here to stay and software can’t safeguard against it

Friday, February 22, 2019
By Paul Martin

Spectre is an inherent weakness in computer chips used by Intel, AMD and ARM
It exposes a weakness in the device’s processing which allows data to be stolen
It is thought emails and passwords can be stolen but it may be much more
Experts now claim software fixes alone are unable to fix the issue

22 February 2019

A serious flaw in the security of some computer chips, known as Spectre, is impossible to fix with software alone, Google experts claim.

The flaw is so large that computers of the future will need to be redesigned in order to avoid the issue.

Spectre affects chips manufactured by Intel, AMD and ARM and are used in almost every single one of the world’s smartphones.

It leaves devices exposed to programmes that can steal data, passwords and emails.

When Spectre was discovered and its ubiquity was noticed tech firms desperately scrambled to find a solution.

It was found that it decreases device speed by up to 30 per cent and Google introduced a feature to isolate each individual page on Chrome to limit the vulnerability.

There has yet to be a comprehensive solution to the issues and no fix for the fundamental issue has been found.

One manifestation of the issue, known as Speculative Store Bypass, has now been labelled as irreparable by Google’s experts.

Ben Titzer, co-author of the study, told New Scientist: ‘The entire field of computing missed this.’

Spectre exploits a weakness in a feature known as speculative execution which improves processing speed.

Experts are now resigned to the fact there may never be a simple patch or fix and the only true way to leave Spectre behind is to change the way machines are made.

Exact details of what can be stolen remain a mystery so it is impossible to gauge the effectiveness of previous software fixes.

Chips make guesses about future calculations, which are then discarded if incorrect.

The research is available on pre-print site arXiv.

The Rest…HERE

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