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Class-action suits over Intel Spectre, Meltdown flaws surge

Since the beginning of 2018, the number of cases has risen from three to 32.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on stage at the IDF developer conference in 2016. Krzanich said updates will be available for 95 percent of systems affected by the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities by the end of next week.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the IDF developer conference in 2016. A couple of the suits are related to the Intel Board's response to his stock sell-off just before news of the flaws hit.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Intel says that since the beginning of January it has been hit with 30 consumer and two securities-related class-action suits over the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in its processors revealed in 2017.

In the section "Litigation related to Security Vulnerabilities" of the 10-K statement Intel released this week the chipmaker states:

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 July 27, 2017 and Jan. 4, 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. 

It's not clear exactly what harm the consumer class is claiming: It could be the actual security vulnerability, but it could also be in response to the patch, which Intel admits slows processing by about 6 percent, or which caused boot loops in some systems.

The problem isn't going away. Researchers have developed a tool to find new vulnerabilities exploiting Meltdown and Spectre, according to ZDNet

Rival chipmaker AMD has been hit with two securities-related lawsuits as well.