Home Security Intel faces 33 lawsuits over Meltdown and Spectre flaws

Intel faces 33 lawsuits over Meltdown and Spectre flaws

Thirty customer class action lawsuits and two securities class actions have been filed against Intel in connection with two vulnerabilities in its processor which were made public in January.

The company made the fact known in a regulatory filing on Friday. No mention was made of the class action which is being readied by the Boston firm of Block & Leviton against Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich for allegedly selling a vast majority of his Intel stock after the company was notified of the two security flaws.

But the company did mention a shareholder derivative action filed against the board and certain directors for allegedly breaching their duties in connection with the disclosure of the vulnerabilities and failure to take action in relation to alleged insider trading.

Krzanich reportedly sold the shares on 29 November, the same day that some OEMs were told of the processor flaws.

He had reportedly given instructions on 30 October that the sale was to be effected. Block & Leviton have also acted against Volkswagen over the emissions scandal known as dieselgate.

The two flaws were revealed in the first week of January and affect Intel processors made since 1995.

Meltdown removes the barrier between user applications and sensitive parts of the operating system. Spectre, which is also reportedly found in some AMD and ARM processors, can trick vulnerable applications into leaking the contents of their memory.

Intel, AMD and ARM have released patches for the flaws, but in many cases these have not achieved the desired impact.

Patches issued by Intel caused problems to the extent that the company told users in January to hold off on using them and to instead wait for fresh updates. Linux creator Linus Torvalds described the Intel patches as "total garbage".

In its Friday filing, Intel said: "The customer class action plaintiffs, who purport to represent various classes of end users of our products, generally claim to have been harmed by Intel's actions and/or omissions in connection with the security vulnerabilities and assert a variety of common law and statutory claims seeking monetary damages and equitable relief.

"The securities class action plaintiffs, who purport to represent classes of acquirers of Intel stock between 27 July 2017 and 4 January 2018 generally allege that Intel and certain officers violated securities laws by making statements about Intel's products and internal controls that were revealed to be false or misleading by the disclosure of the security vulnerabilities.

"Additional lawsuits and claims may be asserted on behalf of customers and shareholders seeking monetary damages or other related relief. We dispute the claims described above and intend to defend the lawsuits vigorously."

Regarding the shareholder derivative action, Intel said: "In addition to these lawsuits, in January 2018, Joseph Tola, Joanne Bicknese, and Michael Kellogg each filed a shareholder derivative action in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Mateo County against certain members of our Board of Directors and certain officers.

"The complaints allege that the defendants breached their duties to Intel in connection with the disclosure of the security vulnerabilities and the failure to take action in relation to alleged insider trading. The complaints seek to recover damages from the defendants on behalf of Intel."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.