Meltdown and Spectre two serious security flaws within computer processors
Meltdown and Spectre are the names of two serious security flaws that have been found within computer processors. They could allow hackers to steal sensitive data without users knowing, one of them affecting chips made as far back as 1995.
What are Meltdown and Spectre?
Meltdown is a security flaw that could allow hackers to bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s core memory, which is normally highly protected.
Spectre is slightly different. It potentially allows hackers to trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information.
How serious is it?
Meltdown is “probably one of the worst CPU bugs ever found” according to Daniel Gruss, one of the researchers at Graz University of Technology who discovered the flaw. It is very serious in the short term and needs immediate attention.
Spectre, on the other hand, is harder for hackers to take advantage of but is also more difficult to fix and is expected to be a bigger problem in the long term.
What devices are affected?
Practically every computing device affected by Spectre, including laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones and even cloud computing systems. A few lower power devices, such as certain Internet of Things gadgets, are unaffected.
Does it only affect Intel processors?
Spectre affects all modern processors, including those designed by Intel, AMD and ARM, but Meltdown is currently thought only to affect Intel chips manufactured since 1995, with the exception of the Itanium and Atom chips made before 2013.
What can be stolen?
The core system, known as the kernel, stores all types of sensitive information in memory. This means banking records, credit cards, financial data, communications, logins, passwords and secret information could which is all be at risk due to Meltdown.
Spectre can be used to trick normal applications into giving up sensitive data, which potentially means anything processed by an application can be stolen, including passwords and other data.
How Can I check If my computer is still affected?
Hop over to gizmodo.com/ to see if you are still affected or download this small utility, run it to see if you are affected by Spectre or Meltdown