Processor vulnerabilities

Have you heard about the latest processor vulnerabilities?

You may have heard the news of new vulnerabilities that affect computer processors. Everyone is affected by this. Mac users, Windows users, everyone. Processors going back to 1995 have been found to be vulnerable. Intel processors are the worst affected as its processor designs are the most exploitable. This is a very serious hardware bug – not a software bug.

What are the vulnerabilities? The names given to the vulnerabilities are Meltdown and Spectre. Broadly speaking they affect how processors isolate information stored within the computer’s memory. This information could be very sensitive such as passwords and encryption keys. Normally the computer’s operating system keeps such information isolated and inaccessible from user programs, such as a web browser, by using the hardware capabilities built into the computer’s processor. With the discovery of these hardware vulnerabilities this separation can no longer be guaranteed.

How can this be attacked? As with most vulnerabilities an attacker has to run malicious code on your computer. This could happen in a variety of ways. For example, this could be in the form of a PC virus, a JavaScript program on a web page, or a malicious PDF email attachment. Even if a user is logged into the computer with a limited, unprivileged account these exploits can still be used.

What is the solution? Make sure to install all critical operating system updates. All major PC vendors, such as Apple, Dell, HP, etc., are also releasing emergency patches for their PCs. For those a bit more tech savvy you should also check for motherboard BIOS updates as well. These are all software patches to serious processor hardware bugs. For now, the only permanent fix to this is to replace the faulty hardware, and at this time there is no valid replacements.

For more information on this topic you can refer to: https://meltdownattack.com/

To check if you PC is vulnerable download a free utility here: https://www.grc.com/inspectre.htm

More from the blog

By |2018-04-04T17:30:10+00:00February 15th, 2018|Computer hardware, Computer viruses|