Intel CEO Brian Krzanich opens CES keynote on security issues

Intel kept its remarks on Spectre and Meltdown short. Just a little under two minutes.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
Watch this: Intel addresses security flaws with company's chips at CES 2018

Intel's keynote speech at CES on Monday opened with a "data" rock performance, followed by a complete shift in tone by the company's CEO. 

Brian Krzanich stepped on stage and almost immediately addressed the elephant in the room: Spectre and Meltdown, two massive security flaws that affected more than 20 years of computers using Intel, Arm and AMD's chips. 

"Our primary goal has been to keep our customers safe," Krzanich said from the annual tech show in Las Vegas. "We have not received any information that these exploits have been used to obtain customer data." 

He recommended that people patch their systems as soon as they're available.

On Wednesday, security researchers from Google, as well as independent researchers, discovered Spectre and Meltdown, a vulnerability that sent shockwaves through the tech industry. It's forced Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other tech giants to push out updates for their devices -- fixes that can also affect gadgets' performance.

Krzanich thanked tech companies for working with Intel to fix the issues and said the company is working on fixing the performance flaws. He pointed out that the effect on performance depends based on the workload. 

"We'll continue working with the industry to minimize the impact on those workloads over time," Krzanich said. 

Krzanich spent less than two minutes talking about the company's security issues, while Intel dedicated about 17 minutes to an opening performance with a digital band. 

He then started talking about artificial intelligence and technology with Intel. 

"If you'll indulge me, I'd love nothing more than to simply put my phone away and to take this evening to truly celebrate innovation with you," Krzanich said. 

Meltdown and Spectre are two security flaws that allowed hackers to steal data off of your computer's chips, including passwords and encryption keys.

The data is supposed to stay on processors, but it's temporarily exposed when your computer is about to access it. 

Spectre strikes by tricking processors into thinking it needs access and then steals the data. Meltdown lets attackers get the data through operating systems, like Microsoft's Windows or Apple's High Sierra. 

Intel has been working to fix the issues and said that 90 percent of chips released since 2013 will have fixes by January 13. For the rest, the fix will come by the end of January, Krzanich said. 

A few hours before Intel's keynote, Apple released an iOS update to patch Spectre chip flaws

Updated at 7:29 p.m. PT: To add details on Spectre and Meltdown, and additional remarks from Brian Krzanich.