For all the talk about human error, phishing and weak passwords, it sometimes turns out that hardware isn’t always performing at its secure best. Since Intel’s serious security flaw was revealed in early January, the company’s Spectre and Meltdown chips have received a great deal of attention, given the sheer number of devices that depend on the hardware. Though no individual or organization has come forward with evidence that security flaws in Intel hardware chips have subjected them to security breaches, the flaw does have the potential to grant access to the wrong people. This has many individuals, organizations and hardware producers considering how to manage digital identities when a computer’s central processing unit can be hacked.
The chips in question are used in the CPU’s kernel, a processing center that handles passwords, encryption codes and other security measures. Unauthorized entry is gained when a certain software program is downloaded. The software exploits the processor flaw and allows others to access information stored in the kernel. This is especially problematic for hosting services that run various client information on a shared server. One compromised chip can grant access to numerous client accounts. An additional problem is that the patch for the flaw can seriously slow down processing speed.
This is the problem facing developers right now: do consumers value speed over security?
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel unveiled several new projects that have been in development long before the problems with Spectre and Meltdown became known. One of those projects is the production of a high-speed quantum computing chip. The 49 Qubit quantum computing chip is promised to emit less heat than earlier versions. It also will be scalable and allow a greater number of signals to pass through the chip. The developers are using materials and designs that are capable of scaling with quantum integrated circuitry, an issue that has often held back quantum computing adoption.
Those who have followed tech chip development have noted that Intel has long favored speed over security. Now that Spectre and Meltdown have revealed exactly why speed might not be favorable over security, it is suspected that Intel’s quantum chips might not be available as soon as Intel had hoped. The design and development teams are thought to have more work to do on the quantum chip. They must create a fast product that is also safe when released.