A total of 32 different lawsuits related to the security exploits known as Spectre and Meltdown have been filed against chip maker Intel. The security flaws were discovered in 2017 and they affect a significant portion of the company’s products with some dating to as far back as 1995.
Of the 32 lawsuits, 30 are seeking to be classified as class action suits representing consumers who purchased computers which have the security flaws. Two of the lawsuits are also class action but they relate to the stock of the company and are representing those who acquired Intel shares in the period preceding the vulnerability becoming publicly known but after the chipmaker had been notified of the problem.
Shareholder derivative lawsuits
Besides the 32 lawsuits three shareholders of the company have also filed shareholder derivative suits against Intel’s chief executive officer, Brian Krzanich, and the board of directors as well as against Robert Swan, the chipmaker’s chief financial officer.
The legal actions against Intel were contained in an annual report the chipmaker filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Intel has disputed the claims and has vowed to defend itself vigorously. However chipmaker admitted that the potential effects of the actions had not been estimated.
“Given the procedural posture and the nature of these cases, including that the proceedings are in the early stages … we are unable to make a reasonable estimate of the potential loss or range of losses, if any,” Intel wrote in the SEC filing.
Both Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities are believed to place close to all smartphones, servers, laptops and computers running on Intel chips as well as those manufactured by other firms at risk. The two security exploits seek to take advantage of a modern chip design element which is meant to enhance the speed and performance. The exploit allows hackers to get access to such sensitive information such as keychains and passwords.
Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities were discovered by Google researchers in the summer of 2017. With regards to the Spectre security flaw Intel and other affected firms were informed on June 1. Information on Meltdown flaw was relayed by the researchers after June 1 but before July 28 last year.
After being alerted by the Google researchers Intel collaborated with makers of personal computers as well as vendors of operating systems in order to develop software patches aimed at addressing the issue. Chips that have inbuilt fixes are expected to be released into the market by Intel later this year.