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Intel says updated chips coming to protect against Meltdown, Spectre

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Intel told investors Thursday that the company is working “around the clock” to tackle the security issues stemming from the Spectre and Meltdown flaws and that it will release updated chips later this year to provide a long-term solution.

The update was offered during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, the first since the vulnerabilities were made public. The flaws could allow hackers to steal stored data — including passwords and other sensitive information — on desktops, laptops, mobile phones and cloud networks around the globe.

Intel said in its forward-looking statement that it may continue to face “product claims, litigation, and adverse publicity” stemming from the security vulnerabilities and attempts to protect against them, with both possibly harming its operations and customer relationships.

Chief executive Brian Krzanich said on the call that despite the discovery of the flaws, the company's financial outlook has not changed, adding that Intel does not expect any “material impact” on its spending or product costs. He also said that the company will continue to release updates as it works to produce a processor that will offer a more long-term solution.

Researchers at Google’s Project Zero, academic institutions and private companies discovered last year the two security flaws that affect modern computing hardware. The revelation of the vulnerabilities that affect microchips in nearly every computer sent the tech industry scrambling for short-term fixes.

Intel's initial efforts to patch the flaws have sometimes misfired. Earlier this week, Intel advised manufacturers and customers of certain processors to stop using newly released software upgrades, which were reported to cause reboot problems. Some companies have also faltered during the hasty rollout of Spectre and Meltdown patches. Microsoft recently suspended sending some Windows updates to address the flaws after some people whose computers use AMD processors reported that their devices did not reboot after installing the new patches. Windows has since released a new update to resolve the rebooting issue, but the Intel suspension remains.

It's not clear whether malicious actors have exploited these flaws. Experts have said that related attacks would not leave a trace and could go undetected.

Intel reported $17.1 billion in revenue in its fourth quarter, up 4 percent from the same time last year.

After the report, Intel's shares climbed as much as 4 percent from its closing price Thursday of $45.30.