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How a 22-year-old discovered the worst chip flaws in history


Horn wasn’t looking to discover a major vulnerability in the world’s computer chips when, in late April, he began reading Intel Corp processor manuals that are thousands of pages long, to make sure the computer hardware could handle a particularly intensive bit of number-crunching code he’d created. — Reuters

Horn wasn’t looking to discover a major vulnerability in the world’s computer chips when, in late April, he began reading Intel Corp processor manuals that are thousands of pages long, to make sure the computer hardware could handle a particularly intensive bit of number-crunching code he’d created. — Reuters

In 2013, a teenager named Jann Horn attended a reception in Berlin hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel. He and 64 other young Germans had done well in a government-run competition designed to encourage students to pursue scientific research. 

In Horn’s case, it worked. Last summer, as a 22-year-old Google cybersecurity researcher, he was first to report the biggest chip vulnerabilities ever discovered. The industry is still reeling from his findings, and processors will be designed differently from now on. That’s made him a reluctant celebrity, evidenced by the rousing reception and eager questions he received at an industry conference in Zurich last week. 

   

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