Security flaws put virtually all phones, computers at risk

07 Enero, 2018, 01:51 | Author: Enrique Watson

This might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

Researchers at Google's Project Zero and academic institutions including the Graz University of Technology in Austria discovered the problem a year ago and disclosed it Wednesday.

ARM said in a public statement that the "majority of ARM processors are not impacted", while AMD reassured users that the "described threat has not been seen in the public domain".

Here's a look at what's affected, what's being done about it and whether you should worry.

The Meltdown and Spectre exploitation techniques abuse speculative execution to access privileged memory-including that of the kernel-from a less-privileged user process such as a malicious app running on a device.

Security researchers have recently uncovered security issues known by two names, Meltdown and Spectre. Ever since Google released two documents detailing the security flaws in nearly every CPU in the world right now, the consumers have patiently waited for a fix for their devices.

Some of the patches are believed to cause slowdowns in a computer's performance by up to 30 per cent, although Intel has reportedly denied it.

Security researchers Wednesday disclosed a set of security flaws that they said could let hackers steal sensitive information from almost every modern computing device containing chips from Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and ARM Holdings.

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Intel is facing at least three class action lawsuits over a recently revealed security flaw.

AMD said there is "near zero risk" to its own processors, either because its chips are designed differently, or security fixes for Microsoft Windows and other operating systems will take care of the problem.

Devices like Huawei's Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which run on Kirin processors based on chip cores from ARM, could potentially be affected, as could Xiaomi devices such as the Xiaomi Redmi Pro. However, Apple says that it has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2 that protect iPhone units, iPod touches and iPad tablets from Meltdown.

The bugs also affect cloud-computing services powering much of the internet.

Unauthorised access will be hard to detect so cloud-computing providers need to act quickly to protect against these vulnerabilities, said Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint.

That's not to say nothing can be done.

Apple has released some patches to mitigate the Meltdown flaw. Google and Microsoft have also issued security patches for their Web browsers, computers and smartphones.

Google said its Android phones were protected if users had the latest security updates. Apple says that despite fears from users, these updates have not slowed down the performance of the Apple devices that received them. "If you aren't up to date, then there's a lot of other nasties out there you should probably also be worrying about".


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