“Meltdown” and “Spectre” sound like the latest bad guys in some comic book, television program or blockbuster movie. In actuality, they’re recently discovered flaws, and they put every device with a computer processor at risk.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk and protect your computers and smart phones.
First, a little background. Design flaws in the central processor chip of your devices have led to the discovery of exploits that could allow someone to take advantage of the processor’s ability to see into files and programs that contain sensitive data, such as passwords or other personal information. Without a fix, there’s no way to prevent such actions – “it’s a feature, not a bug”. “Meltdown” affects Intel powered machines, both PC and Mac, and “Spectre” targets AMD and ARM processors (which likely power your cell phone).
“Meltdown” is already being addressed with patches from companies like Microsoft and Google. Your best protection is to be sure you have the latest updates for your computer.
A patch for Windows 10 has already been released by Microsoft, and updates for W7 and W8 will be available soon. According to industry experts, Apple has included a patch in macOS 10.13.3.
Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers all have updates either already being deployed automatically, or scheduled to be available in the near future.
If your machine hasn’t recently been updated automatically, it probably will be soon. Check with your update program or network administrator to be sure. It’s recommended to always keep your devices and programs updated with the latest releases.
“Spectre” will be a tougher nut to crack. While fixes may be possible, none are available yet. Manufacturers will have to consider basic design changes in the chips themselves, and an overhaul of the OS. Those are solutions for the future, and won’t help for already existing devices. Keep your phones and pads updated, so that when programmers can address the flaws, you’ll be protected.
Some reports are concerned about fixes slowing processing speeds, but industry experts say this should only affect systems utilizing high levels of processing. Regular users should not notice a slow-down of their machines, but those requiring heavy processing loads may see reductions of up to 30%. Everyday users may only see slowdowns when they access cloud-based systems.
If you have any questions about “Meltdown” or “Spectre”, contact Central Point Networks at 559-274-9700. Our expert staff will help keep these super-villains out of your world, so that you can be the super-hero that your customers deserve.