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Jan 9, 2018

Industry insights,

Spectre and Meltdown: what you need to know

You could be forgiven for thinking ‘Spectre and Meltdown’ is the name of the latest band to announce they’re headlining a summer festival near you!  They’re not. Spectre and Meltdown are two of the latest IT vulnerabilities, in the form of major flaws identified in computer chips.

The difference with these two vulnerabilities is that while they affect millions of Windows and Android running PC’s, smartphones and tablets,  Apple have also announced that their products could also be affected. This includes iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

Tech companies have been aware of these issues for over six months, and like many issues of this nature, have been trying to fix the issue through updates and patches before the information is leaked and potentially used for malicious intent. Apple has now released patches to mitigate the Meltdown flaw in the form of the latest operating system updates, which for iPhones and iPads is iOS 11.2 and the macOS 10.13.2 for any MacBooks and iMacs.

What are the bugs?

The Spectre and Meltdown flaws have not yet been exploited, but now the information is out there, it will only be a matter of time before hackers use this information to infiltrate systems and steal data.

-          Meltdown affects desktop computers, laptops and internet servers with Intel chips.

-          Spectre affects some smartphones, tablets and computers with Intel, ARM and AMD chips.

The bugs allow hackers to spy on a machine, stealing confidential information such as passwords and credit card details. When you consider just how many households have devices, with everything from a smartphone each to tablets and PCs, the threat from these two bugs is very real and the fall-out, if anyone does discover how to exploit them, could be catastrophic.

Updates for Meltdown should already be available through your operating system and the patches for Spectre will be released in the next few days. The advice really is to make sure all of your devices are running with the latest version of the OS.