It’s barely January, and already some of the biggest security flaws ever are rearing their ugly heads. Meltdown and Spectre are big, bad, and ready to attack if you’re not prepared. Find out more here!
Meltdown. It’s been called “one of the worst CPU (central processing unit) bugs ever found,” (Newsweek) and it’s ready to take over your laptop, computer, and phone. And? It’s not alone. Spectre, another vulnerability just like it, is just as bad, if not worse. What are these major cyber security flaws?
Meltdown affects Intel chips that might be found in your desktop, laptop, or phone. It lets hackers bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s memory, potentially letting the criminals read a computer’s memory and steal passwords, personal information, or any sensitive data. And you thought the Equifax breach was bad!
The other exploit, called Spectre, affects chips from Intel, AMD and ARM. These are typically found in mobile devices, like phones and tablets. Spectre lets hackers potentially trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information.
“Phones, PCs, everything are going to have some impact, but it’ll vary from product to product,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said. (Reuters)
These security breaches are more and more common (and more and more dangerous), and the general public is not hearing about these fast enough. Google investigated the flaws found in these computer chips as far back as June 2017. They have notified the manufacturers, including Intel, who provided some statements about the vulnerabilities.
Why is this so big?
The defect affects the so-called kernel memory on Intel x86 processor chips manufactured over the past decade. Intel is a big company. It manufactures products for the majority of all computer companies. Chances are, if you own a computer or mobile device of some kind, you have been interfacing daily with Intel tech.
Here are just a handful of examples of companies that use Intel:
Basically, all the computers out there who use Intel, AMD, or ARM chips could be exploited and hacked. Due to these two security flaws you could be the next victim!
How do you prevent it?
Luckily, the manufacturers know about these (because they all read this blog, or something like that) and they are ready to fight back. They have released security patches to prevent attacks using the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, and are most likely available in your current software update.
Here’s what Intel said:
“Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits,” they said in a statement. “Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”
Google Chromebooks, all Android phones, and all Amazon services are up to date and secure (if you installed the latest update). Apple updates for their computers are on their way, as well as for iPhones and iPads. If you have a device and you think it might be vulnerable, check for a security update right now. Most major manufacturers have announced they are going to implement security changes in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.