Intel CEO Sold Half Of His Stock Before Security Flaws Became Public

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Security researchers, led by Google's Project Zero, disclosed that a major flaw in the system architecture of processors made by Intel, ARM, and AMD allows for an exploit called Spectre, which could enable malicious users to access sensitive data such as password or credit-card information that normally should be siloed between different applications. It says it planned to publicly disclose the problem next week.

In the month of November previous year, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off a big chunk of his company stocks worth $24 million (245,743 shares).

In this case, Krzanich set up the plan just a month before the shares were sold, in the period between Intel's initial discovery of the exploit, but before its public disclosure.

There are a number of reasons that an executive might sell off large portions of company stock, whether it be for personal reasons like making a large purchase or because they expect the company may underperform in some aspects and would like to cash in before the stock dips.

"Brian's sale is unrelated", an Intel spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Apparently, the design flaw was made aware to Intel and other chip makers in June 2017 - by Google security researchers.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich could be in hot water if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decides to investigate his massive sell-off of company shares and options. However, Krzanich and Intel knew of the flaws before the sale was made.

Intel is also facing at least three separate class-action lawsuits over the new security vulnerability. And Intel has offered no further explanation of why Krzanich abruptly sold off all the stock he was permitted to. According to an SEC filing, the holdings that Krzanich sold in November - 245,743 shares of stock he owned outright and 644,135 shares he got from exercising his options - were divested under just such a trading plan.

On Thursday, Axios reported that Krzanich had revised his company's trading plan in October.

While Intel shares took a hit from yesterday's revelation, they continue to trade higher than where Krzanich sold last November. Despite the representative stating the plan was unrelated, it certainly seems convenient for Krzanich that it occurred before news of the flaws caused shares to drop 3.4 percent on Wednesday. It's common for a company dealing with security flaws to sit on the information in hopes of fixing the problem before hackers discover the vulnerabilities.