You’ve probably seen the news – Intel is facing a series of proposed class actions over the startling security vulnerabilities known as Meltdown and Spectre. As the lawsuits continue to roll in, ClassAction.org will be cataloging all the cases filed against the tech giant, explaining what they mean for you, and hopefully providing some helpful information about what you can do to protect yourself.
First of All, What’s the Deal with Meltdown and Spectre?
If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the lowdown. In January, it was found out that Intel central processing units (CPUs) manufactured within the last 10 years – which are found in a number of laptops and desktops, both Mac and PC – have fundamental flaws (known as Spectre and Meltdown) that leave users’ sensitive information vulnerable to being stolen. It should be noted that these flaws don’t only affect computers, but also cell phones, tablets and computer servers. The server issue is particularly worrying because it means that any information stored in a cloud network could be vulnerable.
If you’re looking for a technical explanation of Meltdown and Spectre, you should check out this page. But, if you’re like me and want it to be a bit simpler, it works like this: Spectre and Meltdown essentially allow outside parties to take advantage of CPU processes to gain access to whatever sensitive information is stored.
So, What About the Lawsuits?
Soon after the news of the vulnerabilities broke, the first of several class actions was filed claiming that Intel failed to take security into account while it surged forward to make its hardware faster – and well, the saga is ongoing.
Several more lawsuits have been filed since then; here’s the running list:
What Are the Lawsuits Saying Exactly?
All of the cases filed so far follow the same lines – Intel allegedly didn’t protect its customers from the security vulnerabilities and failed to recognize the problem, or if it did, failed to disclose this information to the public and take appropriate measures to make things right.
How Do I Get in on One of These Class Actions?
In general, you don’t have to do anything until when and if the cases settle. (You can find more information on why you don’t have to “join” class actions here).
The suits are seeking compensation for, more or less, anyone who purchased a product with one of the processors at issue. So, if these cases get certified as bona fide class actions and end up reaching a settlement, all affected parties would be able to claim whatever compensation the court deems just. How will you know? Well, you’ll most likely get a class action notice in the mail or via e-mail. And, if there’s any news of a settlement, you’ll be sure to find it on our site.
What Can I Do in the Meantime?
This whole Meltdown/Spectre issue is still new, so there may not be a final resolution anytime soon. Intel has been working on fixes for the vulnerabilities, but there isn’t a complete software fix for Spectre at the moment. And, while a patch for Meltdown is available for Linux, Windows and OS X devices, it reportedly slows down the devices’ performance by as much as 30 percent.
Certain phones seem to be in better shape than others, though. Google released a security patch in December that was designed to mitigate the security flaws – meaning that all Pixel phones, the Nexus 5X and 6P, the Pixel C tablet and newer Android phones (such as iterations of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8) should be much less at risk, assuming that automatic updates are turned on. iOS devices running the 11.2 update have received mitigations as well.
These aren’t complete fixes, however, and they will only make it more difficult for someone to take advantage of the security weaknesses. For now, we need to stay vigilant when it comes to our security practices and stay current with any updates that were designed to mitigate the problem. So, stay safe out there, and check back here for updates on the litigation.