Protecting Yourself Against Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

Meltdown and Spectre invaders find a breach in the shield
If you've been chewing your fingernails over the Meltdown and Spectre chip vulnerabilities that were revealed earlier this year, we don't blame you.

Here's a little refresher if you haven't seen the news: The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities effectively give hackers an open door to almost every computer released in the last 20 years, including personal computers, laptops, cloud servers and mobile devices.

Sounds pretty scary, right? When you consider that the affected chips made by Intel, AMD and ARM over the last two decades are in virtually every device, that's terrifying.

Meltdown, which affects Intel and Apple hardware, breaks the isolation between user applications and the operating system. Hackers exploiting this vulnerability can gain access to a system's memory and any sensitive information such as passwords, encryption keys and personal data.

Spectre, which affects Intel, Apple, ARM and AMD platforms, breaks the isolation between different applications. This allows hackers to trick otherwise problem-free applications into revealing private data.

Older systems that aren't supported and don't receive patches remain vulnerable, but the good news is that some hardware has already been protected by updates.

Google, which discovered the vulnerabilities in 2017, quickly issued updates and steps to protect its products. Apple and Microsoft have also deployed mitigations. Intel's efforts to fix the issue have been rocky, but the chipmaker recently released a new update that is intended to improve system stability issues that came about form its first update.

The important thing is for you to deploy updates when they're available. Even if you have systems that receive and deploy updates automatically, double check that there isn't anything pending. Now that hackers are aware of the vulnerability, they'll be trying to exploit it.

For FAQs, information on patches and more, visit meltdownattack.com.

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