It's ‘disturbing’ that Intel may have told China about chip flaws before US, says congressman

Key Points
  • Intel may have informed Chinese companies about 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' security flaws before telling the U.S. government, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
  • GOP Congressman Gregory Walden calls the claims 'disturbing.'
  • Many Chinese companies have direct ties to the Chinese government, Walden says.
  • Walden, who is also a chair on the House, Energy and Commerce Committee, says the Committee is asking top companies what they knew.
Intel reportedly told Chinese companies about chip flaws before US government

Claims that some Chinese companies may have had knowledge about security flaws in Intel chips before the U.S. government is "troublesome," said Republican Congressman Gregory Walden.

Walden's statement came a day after The Wall Street Journal reported Intel informed Chinese companies about the 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' security flaws before it told the U.S. government.

"If true, I think The Wall Street Journal reporting is very disturbing about what may have happened," Walden told CNBC on "Squawk Alley" Monday morning.

The flaws, which made sensitive information — such as passwords — vulnerable to hacking on computers, mobile devices and cloud networks around the globe, were found earlier this year. Tech experts said the bugs, named Spectre and Meltdown, were design flaws.

Many Chinese companies have direct ties to the Chinese government, Walden said, which means the Chinese government may have known about the security vulnerabilities before the U.S. government or American companies — companies that may have been exposed to the security flaws.

"If they did [know] it's very troublesome," Waldon said.

"You wonder, of all the sectors that are out there, from energy to health care, who were kept in the dark about this," he said. "When you tell [Chinese companies] you're running a risk, an obvious one, that you're telling the Chinese government."

"If a foreign government knew, did they do something? Or could they have exploited this?" he said.

Walden, who is also a chairman on the House, Energy and Commerce Committee, said Congress has asked top execs at Apple, Amazon, AMD, Google, Arm, Intel and Microsoft how long they knew about the flaws and why they choose to keep them a secret.

Congress is just starting to hear back from some of the companies but has no definite answers yet, Walden said.

Meanwhile, Intel's stocks soared about 10 percent last week after its better-than-expected 2017 fourth quarter earnings statement—its highest levels since Sept. 2000.