Intel is being criticized for contacting Chinese companies before the US government with regard to the Spectre/Meltdown flaws as this raises concerns of Chinese hacking attempts.
If the ignominy of having to deal with a design flaw of their chips isn’t enough, Intel is now in the midst of another controversy that revolves around whom it contacted first to reveal the design flaw. And the fact that it contacted a few Chinese companies before anyone else, including the US government, isn’t doing it any favor.
As has been revealed in a new report, Intel had first got in touch with Lenovo and Alibaba of the flaw in its chips and the potential security risk it poses. That the company didn’t get in touch with the US government before that has landed the company is another mess.
That again can be attributed to the heavy surveillance conducted by the Chinese authorities which routinely keeps a tab of all conversations being conducted by its citizens. That makes it quite possible of the government there of having got information of the security flaw and might well have made hacking attempts before suitable patches could have been made available. After all, the Chinese do have a dubious track record when it comes to hacking and other cyber-crimes.
Intel, on its part, claimed they were taken aback by the revelation of the flaw, which in their estimate has leaked earlier than they had expected. Earlier reports claimed Intel is having being warned of the flaws by Google late last year itself though it came to be known to all in early January. Codenamed Spectre and Meltdown, the flaw being inherent to the very design the chips incorporated rules out a quick and easy solution.
What makes things all the more tricky for Intel is that it has to routinely communicate with its partners of such developments regarding its products. However, it might never have foreseen the controversy arising out of whom it got in touch with first. Interestingly, American firms like Google, Microsoft, and Apple et all have been relatively quick in coming up with patches that can mitigate the risks posed by Spectre and Meltdown.
Alibaba, the leading Chinese retailer, however, ruled out the misuse of information shared with it by Intel claiming they are bound by a non-disclosure agreement to prevent any such eventuality.