CPU security flaws Meltdown and Spectre

As reported on many major news sites, there has been a flaw found in processor chips that may allow an attacker to compromise secure data. The flaws, knowns as 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' are going to affect billions of devices around the world.

How does it affect me?

Meltdown has the potential to grab information by snooping on memory operations that are not normally possible. Spectre gets programs to perform unnecessary operations and this leaks data that should stay confidential.

Should I panic?

There has been no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited according to the UK's National Cyber Security Centre. This may change now the bug has been made public.

I've heard that the fix slows down my devices?

Intel said that any performance impacts were "workload-dependent" and the impact for average computer users "should not be significant".

How can I fix it?

Patches to fix the Meltdown bug are already being released. Microsoft Windows 10 will be next Thursday and updates for Windows 7 and 8 a few days afterwards. The latest version of Apple OS, 10.13.2, is already patched but earlier versions will need to be updated. Other devices such as Android phones and other devices are in the process of being fixed or already been patched.

All Datcom maintenance clients will have the patches automatically installed on your PC and laptop as part of the management of your network. These will be rolled out as the manufacturers provide them.

BBC Technology - Meltdown and Spectre : How chip hacks work

BBC Technology - What you need to know

BBC Technology - Chip hacks: How much us your device at risk? (video)

Wikipedia - Meltdown

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