During the first week of January 2018, independent researchers announced that they had discovered massive security breaches in all of Intel’s chips. These flaws allowed hackers to penetrate the data within to recover files stored on the chips that were deemed the most secure. Spectre and Meltdown, as the breach points have become known, are now two of the biggest problems plaguing Intel’s supply of processors currently. The extent of this discovered breach is massive as it impacts almost every single PC, smartphone, and server in the entire world. Intel has a near monopoly on the supply of these processors world-wide, however over the last few years many have been eyeing their position in hopes of gaining market share. Soon after the research was posted, Intel released a software patch that supposedly fixes and alleviates security concerns but slows down all of their chips by 30%. This severely impacted their reputation as one of the driving forces in computing and a brand of the highest quality.
This is a clear example of a problem that is an assignable cause to all of their products. Fortunately, being a piece of technology that doesn’t need to be re-hardwired the company was able to save billions on potential recalls for millions of their chips. However many cloud based services are preparing suits against Intel as they are losing 30% of their previous capacity due to the update, as well as the large potential security breaches. This is a huge issue for their corporation that could have been avoided if they had made quality and security more of a priority during production and development of the chips.
The corporation runs on a tight schedule, attempting to release the newest generation of faster processors every twelve months. The pressure to continue to innovate and create ever faster chips must have put a large strain on engineers attempting to decrease their critical path. The lack of slack time involved in the project must have put an extra stress on assets that are order qualifiers such as security that they are not focused on, in order to achieve an order winner such as speed of the processor. Intel has continually pushed to have the fastest and most efficient processors on the market. This pressure could have been a reason that the security issue was allowed to go so far without being noticed over the last 20 years.
Intel should focus on improving their processes surrounding security, in order to prevent such flaws from being incorporated into their chips. They can develop new projects and processes to improve security while maintaining the current levels of speed that the processors possess today. Security is increasingly becoming more of an order winner as the Internet develops more sophisticated criminals that would be able to easily take advantage of security leaks such as this. Intel should prioritize security for the next round of chip production, as the average consumer won’t particularly hurt by any potential speed improvements yet would give their public image a much needed facelift.