How to protect devices from Spectre and Meltdown chip flaws

12 Enero, 2018, 03:34 | Author: Arnold Perez
  • Image Denys Prykhodov via Shutterstock

The flaws - dubbed Meltdown and Spectre - affect processing chips made by Intel, AMD and ARM Holdings. Even traditionally exploit-resistant operating systems, like Apple's iOS, are vulnerable. Although Google Project Zero spearheaded the effort, most of the researchers involved are independent of Google.

"The defect renders the Intel x86-64x CPUs unfit for their intended use and goal", the complaints read. The Computer Emergency Response Team, the United States' primary defense against computer attacks, went so far as to say the only real way to fix Spectre is to replace processors that have the flaw.

Researchers said nearly every computing system - desktops, laptops, smartphones, and cloud servers - is affected by the Spectre bug. The other, Spectre, is harder to fix, but also harder to exploit, making it less of an immediate threat to consumer devices. The long-term solution may rely on a hardware redesign, he said, with software patches acting to monitor and stop malicious behavior. Kalember also noted that being attacked using Meltdown or Spectre is "highly unlikely".

Taken together, the right and wrong guesses still process data faster than just waiting around for every instruction to be executed in a serial fashion, one after another. "They will improve on it". Researchers have identified a security flaw in the computer processors made by three of the world's biggest chip designers, Intel, AMD and ARM, and a second flaw in Intel chips. These will be similarly impossible to fix, and the only strategy will be to throw our devices away and buy new ones.This isn't to say you should immediately turn your computers and phones off and not use them for a few years.

The story also raises an important issue about the responsible disclosure of such security flaws. "Check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available", the company said. The company said it will be issuing updates for Safari on MacOS and iOS in the coming days, to guard against any potential exploit in JavaScript on the web browser.

Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown.

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Microsoft said in a statement Thursday that it is not aware of any of these vulnerabilities being used against its customers.

The first called Meltdown, affects Intel chips and lets hackers bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer's memory, potentially letting hackers read a computer's memory and steal passwords.

The company said it has already updated its operating systems to defend against Meltdown.

Spectre shares similarities to Meltdown, but is much more sophisticated and wide-reaching. "There may end up being cases that are workload or OS specific that experience more of a performance impact".

The vulnerabilities, nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre, can cause data to leak from kernel memory.

"It's a positive thing that we have independent verification - researchers looking for vulnerabilities", Daly said. On a cloud service, each server is typically shared by many different customers.

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