NA Top 40 member involved in Intel lawsuit over security defect

The National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia is on a legal team that has filed a lawsuit against computer chipmaker Intel because of a security flaw, according to a news release from the Beasley Allen law firm.

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (January 9, 2018) – Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., have filed a federal lawsuit against Intel Corporation after the company admitted a defect in its central processing units (CPU) used in personal computers leaves users’ sensitive, private and secure information vulnerable to hackers. Shortcuts the company used while designing the processors created the defect known as “Meltdown.”

The complaint alleges that Intel deceptively marketed its processors as some of the fastest available on the market, despite knowing the flawed design would require a “patch,” which can slow personal computer processing down by as much as 30 percent. Beasley Allen lawyers W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, and National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia represent named Plaintiff PC users Richard Reis and Zachary Finer in the class action litigation.

“Untold millions of computer owners have just learned that their computer product contains a significant defect in the Intel CPU that has caused a glaring security risk in their computer. Even if it is allegedly repaired by Intel software updates, it will suffer significant performance degradation,” Miles said. “Simply, purchasers of these products either must replace their computer or suffer from poor performance on their defective computer, neither of which they bargained for when they purchased a computer with the Intel CPU.”

Earlier this month, PC users learned about the defect that was discovered last June by Jann Horn, a security analyst working for Google.

Among its many functions, the CPU allows the computer’s operating system to interact with its hardware. The CPU dedicates some of its processing power for this task, which is called kernel memory. When a PC user executes a command the kernel memory carries out the command. This requires the PC to switch between different modes – an action Intel worked to make as fast and efficient as possible.

During the design, Intel introduced shortcuts, or design defects, that sacrificed security for processor speed in all its CPUs manufactured since 2004. The design defects allow low-privilege processes access to the kernel memory.

Because of the design defects, hackers and the malicious software they develop gain the ability to spy on computer processes and any information preserved on the PC’s or server’s physical memory. Hackers can easily gain access to information including passwords, usernames and sensitive personal information – making users vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. Information may even be vulnerable in real time.

Companies that design operating systems are currently developing the “patches” that can help protect users against the vulnerability “Meltdown” created, but the added security will reverse the feature that made the CPUs fast.

The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, case number CV-00074-SVK.