Intel’s CEO sold tons of shares after learning about the kernel flaw

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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich reportedly sold off a large portion of his stake in the company shortly after being informed of the critical kernel vulnerability in its computer processors. He did so months before the public was informed, raising questions as to whether Krzanich was illegally trading with insider knowledge.

Filings in late November show Krzanich sold 644,135 shares he previously owned or acquired as options for $44.05 each. He then sold another 245,743 shares for a weighted $44.55 resulting in a total value of around $39 million and a net profit of $25 million. That suspiciously left him with exactly 250,000 shares, the minimum number a CEO at Intel is required to own, according to a Motley Fool report.

The filing shows the sales were part of a plan that executives typically use to sell stocks at a pre-determined time so they aren’t accused of insider trading. However, the plan was created on Oct. 30, several months after Intel and other companies were notified by Google of the processor flaw. The timing and amount of shares sold are raising questions into his motive for selling. In fact, the sell-off drew scrutiny even before the public was notified of the security issue.

But a representative at Intel says Krzanich’s trading was not related to the kernel bug.

“Brian’s sale is unrelated,” the representative told Business Insider. “ continues to hold shares in line with corporate guidelines.”

As expected, Intel’s stock plummeted yesterday, marking its single worst day in months after reports of the vulnerability started to surface. It saw a 3.4 percent decline to $45.26 and dropped again on Thursday down to $43.80.

A vulnerability in all Intel processors made in the past 20 years is forcing major operating system providers to push out patches through security updates. The flaw deals with memory in the kernel or the core part of an operating system that oversees all processes. It gives attackers a way to use standard apps to steal key information about a system, including passwords, files, and security keys.

Meltdown and Spectre are two devastating bugs that were spawned out of the flaw. Both are capable of looting information stored on memory from computing devices, including smartphones, computers, and cloud server networks. They are extremely difficult to patch, in fact, it may be impossible to fix Spectre without reworking a processor’s architecture.

The big three operating systems: Microsoft, macOS, and Linux have all released updates that partially protect systems from the vulnerability. To keep your device protected, make sure to download the latest version of its operating system.

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