TORONTO — Technology experts warn a “really, really serious” security vulnerability could affect the majority of computers made in the last decade, but a fix being rushed to users has a downside: it may slow down your machine.Tech news website the Register reported a glitch has been identified with Intel processing chips — found in most computers, including Apple’s Macs — that could cause data to become vulnerable to hackers.While software developers have been covertly working since late last year to address the widespread issue, news of the problem began spreading beyond the development community late Tuesday. Intel’s stock dropped about four per cent on Wednesday while the company’s main competitor AMD saw its stock surge by more than five per cent.Are smart speakers spying on you? Privacy and security fears rise as devices’ popularity grows‘Everyone is hacking into everything’: Companies must focus on managing cyber-attacks, not eliminating them“This is a really, really serious problem,” said Vlado Keselj, a professor of computer science at Dalhousie University.“The good news is I think it’s really hard to exploit this vulnerability. But it could just be a matter of time before someone manages to do that.”In a statement released Wednesday, Intel attempted to downplay worries about the hardware issue, saying it believes hackers “do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data.” The company also said a performance hit from a future software update “should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”Many details about the technical issue and possible solutions are still unknown. Intel said it had originally planned to disclose more information next week, once software updates were ready, but was compelled to release the statement after the issue began making headlines.An update for the Linux operating system has already been released and has provided some clues to the extent of the problem. But Keselj noted that care was taken to strip developers’ notes and comments out of the update, which typically give some context around the changes that are found in a new software release.“These patches are visible, anyone can open them and see what’s changed but developers removed comments. Without knowing exactly what the vulnerability is, it’s probably hard to exploit it, so it’s happening under the veil of secrecy which is probably good,” Keselj said.“We don’t want somebody to be able to exploit this before updates are made.”Keselj speculated the average user might not notice a dramatic drop in their computer’s performance and even gamers may not suffer a significant slowdown. But businesses that use enterprise software for running database servers could see an appreciable change in performance, which would put pressure on Intel, Keselj said.Prof. Raphael Khoury of the Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi said it’s not unusual for major software or hardware vulnerabilities to go undetected for a long time but it’s good Intel is releasing its fix before damage could be done.“Maybe the initial patch will have a substantial slowdown and then in the coming weeks they can take their time to produce a better fix,” Khoury said.“It’s better to initially suffer through this slowdown, at least we’re secure.”
by Candice Choi, The Associated Press Posted Jul 9, 2015 11:23 am MDT Last Updated Jul 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email FILE – This Oct. 10, 2011 file photo, shows a can of Diet Pepsi, center, and other Pepsi varieties, posed for a photo in Philadelphia. The artificial sweetener in Diet Pepsi is about to change from aspartame to sucralose, but fans of the old formula may still be able to get it. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) PepsiCo CEO suggests people will still be able to get Diet Pepsi sweetened with aspartame NEW YORK, N.Y. – The artificial sweetener in Diet Pepsi is about to change, but fans of the old formula may still be able to get it.PepsiCo said earlier this year it would replace the aspartame in Diet Pepsi with sucralose, another artificial sweetener many know as Splenda, in response to customer feedback. That change is set to take place in the U.S. starting this summer.But during a call to discuss its earnings Thursday, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said “for those consumers who still love Diet Pepsi with aspartame, we’ll figure out how to make it available online.”A representative for PepsiCo declined to elaborate on Nooyi’s comment.Whether there’s lingering demand for Diet Pepsi with aspartame remains to be seen. Seth Kaufman, vice-president of Pepsi, has said that the reformulated drink might have a “slightly different mouthfeel,” but that people will still be able to recognize the drink to be Diet Pepsi.According to the industry tracker Beverage Digest, Diet Pepsi was the seventh most popular soda brand in the U.S. last year. Diet Coke was the third most popular soda, following regular Coke and regular Pepsi.Both Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke have seen declining sales volume, however, with executives blaming concerns people have about aspartame. Coca-Cola Co., based in Atlanta, has said it has no plans to take out the aspartame in Diet Coke.John Sicher, publisher of the industry tracker Beverage Digest, said making Diet Pepsi with aspartame online would be a smart move for PepsiCo.“They can tell consumers, if you want the old one, we have it for you,” he said.