San Francisco — The world’s biggest chip makers and software companies, including Intel and Microsoft, are coming to grips with a vulnerability that leaves vast numbers of computers and smartphones susceptible to hacking and performance slowdowns. Google researchers recently discovered that a feature, present in almost all of the billions of processors that run computers and phones around the world, could give cyberattackers unauthorised access to sensitive data — and whose remedy could drag on device performance. News of the weakness, found last year and reported on Tuesday by technology blog The Register, weighed on shares of Intel, the biggest semiconductor maker, while boosting rivals including Advanced Micro Devices. Intel’s silence for most of Wednesday added to investors’ unease. Late in the day, Intel, Microsoft, Google and other tech bellwethers issued statements aimed at reassuring customers and shareholders. Intel said its chips were not the only ones affected and it pred...

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