Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Intel’s latest flaw could put your computer at risk

Intel’s latest flaw could put your computer at risk

Quite often these days when we hear about a major security flaw, it’s to do with the underlying software that we’re running on our PCs, whether it’s a dodgy browser exploit, some kind of flaw in productivity software or even “free” content sites that are awash with malware. It’s not quite so often that we hit underlying issues with the actual hardware that we use every day, but that’s the unfortunate position that hardware giant Intel has found itself in, with a slew of potential high severity exploits affected its recent processor ranges.

This is exceptionally bad news, because the odds are very good that you’ve got at least one product that could bear that iconic “Intel Inside” sticker, whether it’s a Windows laptop, Macintosh desktop or even any number of server or higher end business systems that rely on Intel’s top-tier Xeon processor families.

The flaw affects the underlying architecture that loads well before your operating system does, affecting issues with the Intel Management Engine (ME), Intel Server Platform Services (SPS), and Intel Trusted Execution Engine (TXE). The Management Engine can be used by administrators for maintenance tasks, and it’s essentially a sub-processor that runs its own tiny operating system in order to do so. In order to allow administrators (who should have access, after all), the Management Engine can power up a switched-off PC and run necessary upgrade and checking tasks for an entire fleet of PCs, typically with management technology enabled on the system. Or in other words, it’s usually only a concern for those who run entire fleets of PCs, but it’s not clear if the identified flaws could also be exploited on consumer PCs.

Flaws were also identified in the Trusted Execution Engine, which handles hardware authentication, and also the Server Platform Services, which works in a similar fashion to the ME, but for systems acting as servers. The flaws were identified by external researchers to Intel, and the processor giant then undertook a full audit of those services to check the authenticity of their claims. Sadly, they are vulnerable, at least in theory.

To be specific, Intel has identified that there’s a potential issue with any system running any of the following processors:

  • 6th, 7th, and 8th generation Intel Core Processor Family
  • Intel Xeon Processor E3-1200 v5 and v6 Product Family
  • Intel Xeon Processor Scalable Family
  • Intel Xeon Processor W Family
  • Intel Atom C3000 Processor Family
  • Apollo Lake Intel Atom Processor E3900 series
  • Apollo Lake Intel Pentium Processors
  • Intel Celeron N and J series Processors

If you’re reading that list and figuring that maybe you have an Intel-based system, but wouldn’t know a Celeron from a stick of celery, help is at hand. Intel has released a detection tool for Windows/Linux users to help identify if they’re running on a system with the flaw, as well as guidance on how to update the firmware to close off the security hole, which you can find here.

From what’s been announced so far, the one bit of good news is that Intel-based Macs don’t seem to be affected, but even there, it’s wise to keep ahead of any security alerts and keep your system up to date. It’s always going to be a cat and mouse game, and nobody wants their system to be the unlucky mouse.


Recent News

I’ve not had a standard landline in my home for quite some time now. Partly that was because I very much did switch over to using my smartphone a great deal more over time. Mostly, however, it was because getting rid of it was one of the simplest ways to cut off those interminable “support

Social media can be a huge force for change, and in these times where many of us are bouncing in and out of lockdowns, also a vital lifeline for communication on everything from important matters to the wildly trivial. We’re all allowed our personal obsessions, after all. However, many of us don’t think about the

Microsoft recently released its first public-facing beta version of the Windows 11 operating system that it will ship later this year. You’ve got to be signed up to its Windows Insider program to get it – and be willing to accept a little risk in terms of unstable operating systems – but then this is

Telstra recently announced that its 5G coverage for its mobile phone network covers around 75% of the Australian population. It’s also announced the “longest” (as in range) 5G phone call in the world, spanning some 113km in Gippsland. Meanwhile, rival telco Optus has claimed that it’s hit 300mbps upstream on trials of its emerging mmWave

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More