No matter where you fall on the technologically challenged spectrum, you more than likely caught wind of a major security flaw that was discovered in the chips that power your computer and mobile devices in recent weeks. What you may not have known though is that these critical security flaws, Spectre and Meltdown, that have lingered for decades unnoticed, were finally discovered by a 22-year-old genius from Germany.
Jann Horn, who currently works for Google as a cybersecurity researcher, stumbled upon the vulnerabilities by chance as he was studying the 1000-plus page manuals for Intel’s processors to make sure an intensive piece of code he was working on wouldn’t prove to be too heavy for the current technology.
The extent of Horn’s discovery wasn’t fully realized until the information he found was shared with other researchers. It took a team more than 10 researchers to unpack his findings, and when they realized what they were looking at, the fact that Horn made the initial discovery on his own was astounding. “We were several teams, and we had clues where to start. He was working from scratch,”said Daniel Gruss, a researcher on one of the teams at Graz University of Technology in Austria.
Despite his young age, Horn has built up an impressive resume in the cybersecurity world, and others who knew Horn weren’t surprised at all that he could be behind one of the most massive security flaws in tech history.
For an in-depth look at Horn’s discovery process and previous work that led to the find, we recommend this great read published by Bloomberg news.