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A screen capture of the AMDflaws.com website. Joe Uchill / Axios

An upstart cybersecurity research group and trading firm claimed Tuesday that security flaws in AMD computer processors "could potentially put lives at risk." But many in the security community say the widely covered report was dangerously overhyped in an attempt to drive down AMD's stock price.

Why it matters: CTS-Labs and Viceroy Research ultimately did not move the market — AMD finished up for the day. But the media bought into the chaos, at least a little, which could have disastrous effects to security-concerned owners of AMD products.

The intrigue: CTS posted a slick website devoted to the AMD flaws they discovered, complete with video interviews and charts and images ready for the media to use — a marketing effort that started at least three weeks ago when the "amdflaws.com" web domain was registered. Yet they only gave AMD 24 hours to patch the issues before going public.

  • The industry standard is to give at least 90 days for a company to demonstrate it is working on a patch before going public.

What they're saying: Viceroy Research claims the vulnerabilities should be enough to bankrupt AMD. In its report, it wrote "We believe AMD is worth $0.00 and will have no choice but to file for Chapter 11 (Bankruptcy) in order to effectively deal with the repercussions of recent discoveries."

  • In its own report, CTS ends with a disclaimer acknowledging it may be betting against AMD's stock price. "[W]e may have, directly or indirectly, an economic interest in the performance of the securities of the companies whose products are the subject of our reports."

What independent researchers are saying: Many researchers note that the white paper released by CTS provides no technical detail, making it impossible to evaluate the claims. But the suite of four potential attacks described by CTS are, at a minimum, already covered by one layer of computer security. All of them essentially require the computer to have already been hacked before they can be used to inflict more damage. In short, it can make bad worse, but not create the bad.

  • "It feels like they may have some valid security research and they’ve come up with a case study how not to disclose it," said researcher Kevin Beaumont. "It feels like a press exploit on top of vulnerability research."
  • Rapid7 Research Director Tod Beardsley emailed that one of the vulnerabilities appears to simply be that the user might intentionally install malware onto a component known as the BIOS. "In the end, an 'unauthorized BIOS update' is, itself, an attack that is usually mitigated by normal operating system, firmware, and physical controls," he wrote via email.
  • Even the outside expert used by CTL-Labs — Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bits —
    was skeptical about the marketing push behind the flaws, tweeting "Regardless of the hype around the release, the bugs are real, accurately described in their technical report (which is not public afaik), and their exploit code works."

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.