US lawmaker asks Intel, others for briefing on chip flaws

A Democratic US lawmaker asked Intel and two other microchip makers on Tuesday to provide a briefing on the recently detected Spectre and Meltdown security flaws that could allow hackers to steal information from most computers and devices.

“I am looking to better understand the nature of these critical vulnerabilities, the danger they pose to consumers, and what steps your companies plan to take to protect consumers,” California Representative Jerry McNerney wrote to the chief executives of Intel, Softbank-owned Arm Holdings and Advanced Micro Devices.

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“The security of our customers’ systems and data is a top priority for Intel, “the Santa Clara-based company said in a statement to Reuters.” We share Congressman McNerney’s interest in these important issues and will continue to engage with a variety of Congressional and Executive Branch officials to address how the industry can best respond.”

Arm said it had responded to the briefing request.

“Arm appreciates Congressman McNerney’s long record of work on cybersecurity issues, has responded to his office to discuss next steps, and looks forward to a dialogue on our mutual goal of creating more secure devices,” the company said in a statement.

AMD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The request is one of the first responses from the US Congress to the disclosure earlier this month by security researchers of the two major flaws, which may allow hackers to steal passwords or encryption keys on most types of computers, phones and cloud-based servers.

McNerney, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the companies to explain the scope of Spectre and Meltdown, their timeframe for understanding the vulnerabilities, how consumers are affected and whether the flaws have been exploited, among other questions.

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