Home > technology > gadgets > Intel’s shoddy Spectre and Meltdown patches need to be patched too

The process of patching computers to protect them against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, isn’t going according to plan. Intel has warned users to not download and install any patches that may be showing up as notifications on their computing devices, because there is a problem with them. In an official statement, chip maker Intel said the new patches “may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behaviour". Essentially, your PC might become unusable.

These reboot issues and general system instabilities were first reported earlier this month. Intel has been monitoring the issue since, and believes they have identified the root cause specific for the Broadwell and Haswell generation chipsets. While these two specific issues may be addressed, further information is awaited on why similar issues are being reported from machines running the Ivy Bridge, Skylake, Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake generation chipsets.

Guess who is not impressed? The answer: Linus Torvalds, the principal creator of the Linux kernel, which became critical to operating systems such as Google’s Android and Chrome OS. In an email chain between Torvalds and David Woodhouse, an engineer at Amazon UK, which has now gone public, Torvalds slates criticises, “All of this is pure garbage. Is Intel really planning on making this shit architectural? Has anybody talked to them and told them they are f*cking insane?"

As things stand, we are in a wait and watch period, awaiting an updated patch for fixing the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities that are impacting the hardware side of things. The two vulnerabilities use memory corruption which allows hackers to bypass the installed operating systems and other security software, to be able to steal passwords or encryption keys stored in the hardware. This is applicable on computing devices as well as smartphones.

Intel is not the only chipmaker facing issues with the patches. Earlier this month, rival chipmaker AMD also halted the patch rollout, citing issues such as PCs locking up or freezing or crashing with the “blue screen of death". AMD noticed these issues on machines running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. On its part, AMD believes that its hardware architecture is better designed to ward off any Meltdown threats, and that the Spectre vulnerabilities can be patched.

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