Much has been written, said and tweeted about the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws in the month since they were unveiled, but the reality is that this conversation is just getting started.
The staggering number of microprocessors that are impacted by these critical, design-level security vulnerabilities in modern CPUs (billions of existing devices) pales in comparison to the number of smart, connected and deeply vulnerable devices that will exist in just a few more years. All of these “endpoints,” including pervasive edge devices like phones, cars, industrial control systems, smart meters and consumer goods, will be susceptible to malicious hacking unless the processor industry starts to think creatively and act swiftly to protect the entire chain of vulnerability.
Intel, ARM, Qualcomm, AMD and others have leapt into action, working to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively. And to be fair, these newly-revealed vulnerabilities represent architecture-level design flaws that date back more than 20 years, when few people could have imagined such a wholly connected world of vehicles, homes, buildings, and automated factories and utilities — all reliant on a massive profusion of microprocessors. Even when we look at the short term, the ability of designers to predict how devices will look and behave three to five years from now is questionable, not to mention untrustworthy.
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