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Qualcomm CPUs have been shown to be unprotected against the Meltdown exploit, researchers say

Meltdown alongside Spectre was originally reported as a hardware level exploit on Intel CPUs (Source: meltdownattack.com)
Meltdown alongside Spectre was originally reported as a hardware level exploit on Intel CPUs (Source: meltdownattack.com)
Earlier this year two large security exploits known as Spectre and Meltdown were reported to exist on modern day CPUs. While Spectre has been confirmed to be exploitable on AMD, Intel, IBM, and ARM, it was previously believed only Intel, IBM, and a handful of ARM's CPUs were vulnerable to Meltdown. However, researchers have confirmed that at least some ARM processors are indeed vulnerable to Meltdown.

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Reuters reports that it has been informed by researchers at Graz Technical University that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU in the Samsung Galaxy S7 was vulnerable to the Meltdown exploit. The Snapdragon 820 is based on the Kryo architecture, which is in turn based on ARM. Originally thought to be safe against the exploit, it is now known that the Kryo core is unprotected against Meltdown on a hardware level. In January of this year a flurry of patches and OS updates for almost all platforms and hardware came out to counter Spectre and Meltdown. Some of these patches actually had to be halted and rolled back due to incompatibility on some AMD systems.

Although Samsung has said no other Samsung phones are not known to be vulnerable, any CPU using the Kryo core will be vulnerable to Meltdown; it is not Samsung's phone at fault but the architecture the CPU is based on. In fact, many more recent Qualcomm CPUs might be vulnerable, or even the platform of ARM itself may be vulnerable; again, however, ARM maintains vulnerability to both Spectre and Meltdown is scant across a variety of cores, and this is the first time Meltdown has been discovered in this fashion. Meltdown was exploitable on several generations of Intel CPUs, going all the way back to 1995, although architectures like Itanium and Atom are inherently immune.

AMD maintains that its CPUs are also immune the same way Atom is, however the recent discovery of Meltdown on ARM may put some doubts to this claim. Ultimately, AMD is surely looking for hardware and software patches for both Spectre and Meltdown even if AMD claims it is immune to the latter. Intel and AMD have already announced hardware level fixes to Spectre and Meltdown; they will debut with Cascade Lake for Intel and Zen 2 for AMD. Spectre and Meltdown especially have sent the tech world into a panic, as the exploits are really quite severe even if no known attacks exploiting them have been used. Although patches may reduce some performance in some cases, they are highly recommended.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 08 > Qualcomm CPUs have been shown to be unprotected against the Meltdown exploit, researchers say
Matthew Connatser, 2018-08- 9 (Update: 2018-08- 9)