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Here's What You Need To Know About The Meltdown And Spectre Bugs

13 January 2018

"While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact".

A laptop that uses Intel's sixth-generation Core chip known as Skylake, at the Intel booth during CES International in Las Vegas on January 7, 2016.

While Meltdown is said to affect Intel processors manufactured since 1995, Spectre is more widespread in that it is present in ARM and AMD-based devices as well. The federal organization says that "fully removing the vulnerability" requires replacing the hardware already embedded in millions of computing devices. One of the bugs is specific to Intel but another affects laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and internet servers alike. The company says it hasn't found any reports of the vulnerabilities affecting customers as of now.

Security vulnerabilities such as Meltdown and Spectre have affected Intel chips. tech giants have taken necessary measures to mitigate effects of the vulnerabilities. It's a part of the Software Engineering Institute, which is itself a non-profit that's largely funded by grants from the US Department of Defence.

Speculative Execution is a technique used by most modern CPUs to improve performance.

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However, later on Thursday afternoon, CERT/CC withdrew that recommendation, saying merely that anybody affected should install operating system updates as soon as possible. Manufacturers including Apple, Microsoft, and Google have worked tirelessly to release updates that patch the bugs. Microsoft has issued security patch for Windows 10 machines that automatically get downloaded to prevent any risk while Apple has confirmed that Meltdown flaw has been fixed with the macOS 10.13.2 update.

The statement goes on to say that Intel is "working closely with many other technology companies, including AMD, ARM Holdings and several operating system vendors, to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively".

Intel stated that its chips are working as specified, which suggests that the "flaw" can be more accurately described as an "exploit" that attackers could take advantage of. The problem impacts processors going back more than two decades and could let hackers access passwords, encryption keys or sensitive information open in applications. When exploited, the bug can permit hackers with access to users' sensitive information.

They also plan to design their future chip architecture to prevent the exploits. They are from Google's Project Zero, the University of Pennsylvania, Austria's Graz University of Technology, Australia's University of Adelaide and security firms Cyberus Technology, Rambus and Data61.

Here's What You Need To Know About The Meltdown And Spectre Bugs