A serious security Vulnerability and design Flaw in Intel chips has reportedly already been addressed by Apple — at least partially. The design flaw, which first made headlines Tuesday, affects basically all modern computers that run on an Intel CPU.
Apple apparently introduced a fix for the vulnerability in macOS 10.13.2, according to developer and security expert Alex Ionescu, who revealed that the issue had been partially fixed but could not reveal any other details due to a non-disclosure agreement. Several sources within Apple also told AppleInsider that the latest update has patched “most” of the security concerns with the Intel vulnerability.
The macOS 10.13.2 update was released to the public on Dec. 6. Additional security patches related to the flaw are set to be introduced in the upcoming macOS 10.13.3, which is currently in its beta testing phase of development.
The Intel KPTI vulnerability, as it’s known, was first publicized yesterday by The Register. While full details about the flaw are still unavailable due to an embargo on the discovery, sources seem to indicate that it was a critical vulnerability. Reportedly, the flaw allowed normal apps to view contents of protected kernel memory, which could have allowed hackers or malicious entities to gain access to sensitive information like login keys and user passwords.
The question on everyone’s minds: Does MacOS fix the Intel #KPTI Issue? Why yes, yes it does. Say hello to the "Double Map" since 10.13.2 — and with some surprises in 10.13.3 (under Developer NDA so can’t talk/show you). cc @i0n1c @s1guza @patrickwardle pic.twitter.com/S1YJ9tMS63
— Alex Ionescu (@aionescu) January 3, 2018
The vulnerability also affects Windows and Linux machines that use an Intel CPU. A fix for the flaw already exists for those systems, but it involves using a Kernal Page Table Isolation Utility to isolate a computer’s kernel memory from running processes. Unfortunately, for PC and Linux computers, this will likely result in a 5 to 30 percent slowdown in performance after the vulnerability is fixed.
Interestingly, Mac computers seem to be relatively immune from this performance slowdown — as a fix was introduced almost a month ago, and no widespread performance issues for macOS 10.13.2 users have been spotted thus far.
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