Recently uncovered two huge processor vulnerabilities called Meltdown and Spectre have taken the whole world by storm, while vendors are rushing out to patch the vulnerabilities in its products.
The issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all operating systems (Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, macOS, FreeBSD, and more), smartphones and other computing devices made in the past 20 years.
What are Spectre and Meltdown?
In short, Spectre and Meltdown are the names of security vulnerabilities found in many processors from Intel, ARM and AMD that could allow attackers to steal your passwords, encryption keys and other private information. Both attacks abuse ‘speculative execution’ to access privileged memory—including those allocated for the kernel—from a low privileged user process like a malicious app running on a device, allowing attackers to steal passwords, login keys, and other valuable information.
Protect Against Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws
Some, including US-CERT, have suggested the only true patch for these issues is for chips to be replaced, but this solution seems to be impractical for the general user and most companies.
Vendors have made significant progress in rolling out fixes and firmware updates. While the Meltdown flaw has already been patched by most companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google, Spectre is not easy to patch and will haunt people for quite some time.
Swati Khandelwal at The Hacker News
Here’s the list of available patches from major tech manufacturers:
- Windows OS (7/8/10) and Microsoft Edge/IE
- Apple macOS, iOS, tvOS, and Safari Browser
- Android OS
- Firefox Web Browser
- Google Chrome Web Browser
- Linux Distributions
- VMware and Citrix