In a shocking development, researchers are now assuming every Intel processor made over the previous ten years could have a catastrophic, low-level CPU vulnerability. A software patch could be coming soon, but it’s estimated to degrade CPU performances by up to 30 percent. How will miners and crypto users be affected?
A “Zero-Day” Vulnerability
Microsoft, Linux, and everyone in between are now scrambling to respond to the critical “kernel memory leaking” flaw that’s just been identified as potentially inherent to every modern Intel processor, per a bombshell January 2nd report from The Register.
The problem is thus: there lies a hardware bug in Intel’s CPUs that can allow malicious agents and their code to read into what should be protected areas in these device’s kernel memory. In layman’s terms, kernel memory facilitates the most fundamental aspects of an operating system (OS).
Accordingly, this devastating vulnerability can expose secure data like passwords with ease. And particularly dire are how exposed virtual machine server farms (e.g. Amazon Web Services, or AWS) seem to be in light of the nature of the bug at hand.
The solution can’t come in the form of hardware, as doing so would be logistically impossible from Intel’s end. Instead, OS-level software patches will be needed.
Cryptocurrency Users Affected?
Yet again, the cryptocurrency space is reminded through this expansive Intel vulnerability not to leave non-trivial investments on crypto exchanges for any extended period of time, as exchange passwords are precisely the kind of sensitive data that could be retrieved from a CPU’s kernel memory.
Has anyone’s crypto been stolen through this exploit already? It’s hard to say, though seemingly unlikely since Intel and other dedicated researchers just discovered it themselves.
But the vulnerability should have everyone in the space considering the switch over to a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, that is if they haven’t already. Hardware wallets are simply the safest way to store cryptocurrencies as it stands, and there are a range of reputable ones to choose from.
CPU miners in the cryptocurrency ecosystem may also be affected, as the coming software patches are projected to degrade CPU performance from anywhere between five and 30 percent. Though these miners might escape mostly unscathed, as CPU mining relies less on memory and more on processing.
Where do you stand? Do you already have a hardware wallet, or does this story have you gunning for one now? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Ars Technica, Steemit