New Computer chip danger by Al Hundley

New Computer chip danger by Al Hundley

In January 2018 it was revealed that microprocessors produced for more than a decade by Intel and AMD had major defects that could be exploited by hackers to gain sensitive details of users’ personal and financial data. These chips are used in practically every personal computer, laptop, smart phone, and ipad as well as business cloud computer services.

Exploitation of those defects could result in a devastating cyber attack severely disrupting the worldwide web and with it all global commerce.*

There are those who believe nuclear war, asteroid hits, and super volcano eruptions are very unlikely and therefore not worth worrying about. Key defects in computer chips that power modern civilization however are here NOW, not in some distant future.

Stock markets could either close or be shut down by governments. There could easily be a run on banks worldwide. The price of necessities like food and energy could skyrocket. Many municipalities would no longer be able to control their water systems. Airline traffic would likely be seriously disrupted.

That’s the dark scenario. If a patch could be found quickly enough to get the web back up and running then we might be able to save global civilization. But if not the impact could be a profound as an asteroid hit or super volcano. Modern society depends on all of these systems working seamlessly and reliably.

As described in the press Intel and AMD knew about these problems for many months before they were publicly disclosed. In fact the CEO of Intel reportedly sold all of his Intel shares other than those he is required to hold under US securities law. The sale was made before the chip defects were made public.

Is it not entirely possible that terrorists and criminal elements as well as rogue states also knew of the defects but decided to keep them secret for future use. And is it not entirely possible that other defects are known but are being kept secret or that new ones will be discovered by using Deep Mind type computer analysis?

What these new defects in computer technology now in use worldwide tell us is that a crippling global cyber attack is not an abstract threat. Which is all the more reason we need additional research on alternative foods and concrete plans to deal with food shortages.

Further reading: Wall Street Journal 5th Jan 2018: Intel Wrestled With Chip Flaws for Months

Note: This article on the World Economic Forum website was written in 2012, before the massive global cyberattack of June 2017.