New security flaw in Intel chips could affect millions

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SANTA CLARA — Intel has revealed another hardware security flaw that could affects millions of machines around the world.

The chipmaker said Tuesday there's no evidence of anyone exploiting the bug outside of a research laboratory.

"Doing so successfully in the real world is a complex undertaking," Bryan Jorgensen, Intel's senior director of product assurance and security, said in a video statement.

The bug is embedded in the architecture of computer hardware. But "with a large enough data sample, time or control of the target system's behavior," Jorgensen said, the flaw could enable attackers to see leaked data.

It's the latest revelation of a hard-to-fix vulnerability affecting processors that undergird smartphones and personal computers. Two bugs nicknamed Spectre and Meltdown set a panic in the tech industry last year.

As companies and individual citizens increasingly sign their digital lives over to "the cloud" — an industry term for banks of servers in remote data centers — the digital gates and drawbridges keeping millions of people's data safe have come under increasing scrutiny.

Intel said it's already addressed the problem in its newest chips after working for months with business partners and independent researchers. It's also released code updates to mitigate the risk.

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