As we reported last month, massive security vulnerabilities in modern CPU hardware code-named Meltdown and Spectre put all operating systems at risk including Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS, Chromebooks and others. Nearly every device made in the past 20 years is affected. The enormity of affected users and units have left Intel and others scrambling for patches, fixes and more permanent remedies.
Popular Science in a nod to simplify the complex notes that Spectre involves a single program becoming compromised which then looks at other programs whereas Meltdown grants access to a part of the computer’s memory that they shouldn’t have access to. That’s the bad news. The better news is that typical users should make sure the software running on their devices is up-to-date while the industry at large develops permanent solutions.
Most recently Intel issue a patch, then Microsoft issued an emergency patch on January 27 to disable Intel’s buggy fix that caused some machines to reboot without warning, possibly corrupting data in the process. Microsoft patches have also had their share of problems by causing older AMD machines to crash or have been incompatible with some antivirus software. MS has advised antivirus firms to add a particular registry key if their software is compatible — otherwise, the update won’t be installed. In short, check your antivirus to be sure it has been updated and/or follow the instructions
Google says Chrome has updated its browser and that Android devices with the latest updates are already protected. To check your Chrome browser go the small dots at the top right of your browser screen and click help. The update will be installed automatically then ask you to reopen your browser.
Apple has already released an operating update iOS 11.2.2, so be sure to install the latest OS.
In brief, make sure:
- your operating system is up to date*
- your antivirus is up to date*
- your software is up to date*
- Your data, including cloud data is backed up now (and regularly)
- You are particularly alert for Phishing Malware
*Note, however, that some patches have associated performance issues, and individual users may want to explore tech news and vendor forums about a specific patch they are preparing to install.
Stay abreast of related news
PCWorld has updated its excellent coverage on this complex issue, and goes further, detailing what fixes have already been pushed out, and what individual users can do to protect themselves.
According to Reuters news, some of Intel data center customers are exploring other vendors and others are already looking at alternative microchips. PC Vendors are also exploring options.
Following are other informative links. But the potential problems for both business and individuals is enormous, so stay tuned and alert to mitigation news and progress.
Wired The Hidden Toll of Fixing Meltdown and Spectre.
The Verge Processor flaw exposes 20 years of devices to new attack
Make Tech Easier Meltdown and Spectre CPU Vulnerabilities: Here’s What You Need to Know