A massive flaw in the way computer processors have been designed over the last two decades could leave just about every computer, mobile device, and server vulnerable to hacking, a group of security researchers announced yesterday, Jan. 3.
Intel chips dating back to 1995 are potentially affected by one flaw, nicknamed Meltdown by the researchers, while another, called Spectre, could potentially affect chips from all manufacturers. News of the issues sent Intel’s stock tumbling yesterday, and at the time of publishing, it was down about 3% from yesterday’s closing price.
But Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, for one, sold the majority of his company stock in November, several months after the company was alerted to the flaws. As is common in cybersecurity research, the companies potentially affected by the flaws were alerted long before the public, in the hopes of fixing as many problems as possible before hackers could discover and exploit the issues. With the Spectre flaw, however, it appears that there is no simple fix, and some are suggesting that the only way to completely solve the problem will be to recall and replace the millions of affected computer chips.
Krzanich sold off all but 250,000 of his Intel shares—the minimum number he’s required to hold per his employee agreement—in November, according to US Securities and Exchange Commission filings uncovered by Business Insider. The stock dump, which netted him around $25 million, was part of a premeditated stock trading plan that many executives use to manage their holdings, but this plan was only put into place on Oct. 30, according to CNBC.
Overall the company is downplaying the severity of the problem, and has pushed back against reports that any fixes might slowdown a chip’s performance. And, for what it’s worth, Intel shares are trading at almost exactly the same price as when Krzanich sold his shares (a weighted average of $44.05 in November compared to $44.12 today).
Intel confirmed that the researchers first alerted Intel to the flaws in June. A spokesperson said Krzanich’s sale was “unrelated.”
“It was made pursuant to a pre-arranged stock sale plan (10b5-1) with an automated sale schedule,” the spokesperson said. “He continues to hold shares in-line with corporate guidelines.”
Krzanich is due to be the first keynote speaker at next week’s CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
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