Intel security scare - should I be worried?

Posted by Wordtracker on 16 Jan, 2018
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Two security exploits potentially affecting almost all computers have been identified. How much of an issue is this and what do you need to know?

Intel scare

Meltdown and Spectre are two nasty security exploits identified in January of 2018 that could potentially be used to steal sensitive data from your system. This might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

Meltdown targets predominantly Intel CPUs sold after 1995. Whereas Spectre is much wider reaching and effects current Intel, AMD and ARM CPUs

At this time it is still unclear if they’ve been abused by any malicious software. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said there was no evidence that the vulnerability had been exploited. However it’s probably better to be safe than sorry, as it is highly likely that you’re at risk from these exploits.

Fortunately the Internet is a fantastic place, and much cleverer people than I have already produced fixes.

This is what you need to know.

Am I covered?

The major operating system makers have issued patches to protect their products. Some will update automatically, others will need to have the patches installed.

For all cases it’s important to make sure your Operating System is up to date and that all updates are complete, as patches are available.

See below for help on the individual operating systems.

Windows

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-protect-your-pc-against-the-intel-chip-flaw/

IOS, OS X

https://www.macworld.com/article/3246007/security/protect-your-mac-meltdown-spectre-faq.html

Linux

https://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/check-linux-server-for-spectre-meltdown-vulnerability/

Android

https://source.android.com/security/bulletin/2018-01-01

Cloud hosting

Your situation will depend enormously on the type of hosting you have. If you have a dedicated server you will most likely have to manage the update yourself.

However if you use cloud hosting services like Heroku, it’s likely they will have patched their servers. You should check with your hosting provider if you are unsure. More information can be found on the NCSC link below.

So should you be worried? Not really.

For further reading on this issue see:

https://meltdownattack.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meltdown_(security_vulnerability)

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/meltdown-and-spectre-guidance

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