As news broke Tuesday, Intel Corp. has reported a massive security flaw in its processors that makes commonly used operating systems vulnerable to hackers! The flaw is in Intel’s processor chips, and has specifically impacted the security in all computers from the past 10 years! The bug allows some software’s to gain access to parts of a computer’s kernel memory data, which are set aside to protect vital information such as passwords and personal information. This leaves systems more open to malware and hack attempts.
The issue has affected everyone from Mac and PC users, to big-name Cloud computing environments such as Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
Linux programmers have already begun to release patches to shut out the risk of hack attempts. While the fix will prevent the chip’s kernel from leaking memory, it brings some unfortunate changes to the way the OS interacts with the processor. And that could lead to slowdowns. This is a result of the force the processor takes to dump cached data and then reload the information from memory.
The majority of Microsoft Azure infrastructure has already been updated as of 3:30 PST on January 3rd. However, some aspects of the Cloud are still being updated and do require a reboot of your customer Virtual Machine’s (VM) for the security update to take full effect. The reboot to your VM is a planned maintenance and during this time Azure will reboot the VMs one Update Domain at a time. In order to limit the impact on your environments, the affected VM will only be unavailable for a couple of minutes during the reboot.
This is just the tipping point that furthers the case of moving to the Cloud. Consumers will likely have little to worry about when updating their systems, however this could be the start of a big problem for those who manage large-scale premises data centers. With the increased deployment of critical security patches and no performance degradation, it will take time to pore over the disclosures and patches to get a better understanding of the exact risks involved with these vulnerabilities. In addition, if you still have servers on-premise, you will need to take valuable time from IT staff or pay outside consultants to do this. The Microsoft Azure Cloud includes this as a value add.