If one thing is clear, is that AMD has been on a roll since it launched its new Ryzen processors last year. This is because for the first time in years the company is offering performance comparable to Intel’s Core series with Ryzen. Also, the fact that AMD’s new processors have a greater number of cores on average than their Intel counterparts, and can be had for less overall, sure is nothing to scoff at.
Also, the company headed by Lisa Su is now gearing up to release is new Ryzen 2000 series, a refresh of its original Ryzen CPUs which will offer even more performance at the same price point.
But while it looks like AMD is now in an enviable position to take on its long-time rival Intel, a recent report by an Israeli firm might make gamers think twice before opting for an AMD processor this year.
This is because CTS-Labs has apparently found several security flaws in AMD’s Ryzen processors, as was recently reported on website CNET.
Amongst these exploits is one dubbed “Ryzenfall”, which would allow an attacker to steal passwords and encryption keys from a machine running a Ryzen processor. Another exploit, named “Chimera” by the researchers, would enable an attacker to run malware on the processor itself, and even install dubious software like keyloggers in order to spy on users.
Most worryingly, the flaws which make the Chimera attack possible are hardware-based and cannot be fixed, while it could take AMD months to come up with software patches to address the other flaws.
So, should you be worried if you’re running and AMD Ryzen processor in your gaming rig? Apparently there’s no reason to panic just yet, as the technical details of these attacks have not been made public yet, while it seems that any potential attacker would need administrative privileges on the target machine in order to execute these attacks, something that’s difficult, but not impossible of course.
Also, some have questioned CTS-Labs interests in disclosing these flaws so early without giving AMD enough time to look at them and deliver a solution. After all, Google’s researchers gave Intel several months before going public with their findings regarding the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.
Plus, the fact that administrative privileges are required to run these attacks have been compared by some to giving burglars the keys to one’s house and then asking them not to steal anything, so arguably the threat of falling prey to any of these attacks is quite low right now.
So it would be a great thing for AMD fans and anyone else planning to buy or build a gaming PC based on a Ryzen chip if all this turned out to be a case of too much ado about nothing in the end then, and that AMD remains a viable alternative to Intel in the PC gaming arena for the foreseeable future.
Ryzen chip (Advanced Micro Devices)