Meltdown and Spectre – Threat Alert

meltdown and spectre logos

Above: Meltdown and Spectre logos designed by Natascha Eibl

Computer researchers from the Austrian Graz University of Technology have identified two major bugs, named Meltdown and Spectre, in the main chip of most modern computers—the CPU. It’s really a design flaw in the hardware that has been there, in some cases, for over 20 years. The Meltdown and Spectre bugs affect all Intel, AMD, and ARM based processors. This is a big deal because that includes almost every computer on the market; including your PC, laptop, tablet, smart phone, and even business workstations and servers.

These hardware bugs allow malicious programs to steal data that is being processed in computer memory. Normally, applications are not able to do that because they are isolated from each other and the operating system. These hardware bugs can break that isolation.

If malicious software gets installed and runs on your computer, criminals may be able to access your passwords. This includes data stored in a password manager or browser, your emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents. This can be devastating.

What Can You Do About Meltdown & Spectre?

You need to install updates and security patches on all of your devices to protect against the threat of Meltdown and Spectre. However, this is going to take some time, as some of the patches are not even available yet. Check often for updates on Windows, Mac, and iOS and Android Devices to make sure those devices are fully up to date. This is only a software fix for a hardware issue, however. The issue will not be permanently resolved until new CPUs are manufactured that do not have this flaw in their design. That is a process that could take a few years (just in design and engineering alone). 

In the meantime, you need to be extra cautious, with security on the top of your mind. Always think before you click – the malicious software needs to find it’s way on to your device first. Avoid clicking unknown links in emails, popups, or installing unknown software. Also, hang-up on anyone calling you claiming to be tech support from Microsoft or the like (this is always a scam).

Appel Technology Solutions, LLC is always available to help. We offer security check-ups that can verify that your devices are up-to-date and secure.Visit the Contact Us page or call us at 570-851-0925.

Additional information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meltdown_(security_vulnerability)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(security_vulnerability)

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