Meltdown: Intel now asking everyone to skip flawed firmware updates

Delia Watkins
January 23, 2018

The news from Intel that the CPU microcode update, which it issued to patch the Spectre vulnerability, was inducing random system reboots just made the Meltdown/Spectre issue go from bad to worse.

Intel initially believed the reboot problem was limited to firmware updated systems running its older Broadwell and Haswell CPUs.

The firm's executive Vice President Neil Shenov wrote: "We recommend that OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behaviour". "Please be assured we are working quickly to address these issues". Once that testing wraps up, the update will be made available for everyone.

Earlier this month, Intel chief Brian Krzanich took the unusual step of addressing the security issue during a keynote ahead of the opening of the huge Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In the meantime, computer users were advised to be vigilante with security practices.

Researchers at Google showed how a hacker could exploit the flaw in many kinds of computer chips to get passwords, encryption codes and more, even though there have been no reports of any attacks using the vulnerability. We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause.

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Shenoy offered no timing details about patch releases but promised to share more details "later this week".

You can find a full list of Intel chips that are affected by the Spectre and Meltdown bugs here.

There are still several Intel chip models that are reportedly experiencing rebooting issues, including its second-generation Sandy Bridge, third-generation Ivy Bridge, sixth-generation Skylake, and seventh-generation Kaby Lake models.

Those patches, however, have only dug Intel into a deeper hole.

Intel first acknowledged the problem more than a week ago, saying chips in the company's lines called Broadwell and Haswell were causing problems after receiving updates.

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