Microsoft Weekly: Fixing flaws, Cortana crisis, and Windows watching

Windows hacker

But, of course, it's up to hardware manufacturers to release firmware updates through their own channels, so Microsoft has detailed the updates it's releasing for Surface devices.

Meltdown and Spectre are already causing trouble, even if there's no evidence that cyber-attackers have weaponized the critical processor flaws.

When word got out on an exploit in AMD and Intel Processors, Microsoft and other tech giants were quick to respond and patch their systems or devices.

Microsoft has warned users that its patches for the unsafe Meltdown CPU bug won't reach them if their third-party antivirus hasn't been updated to support this week's Windows security update. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. The two flaws are dubbed "Meltdown" and "Spectre".

"If you have not been offered the security update, you may be running incompatible antivirus software and you should follow up with your software vendor", the company explains. Intel encourages computer users worldwide to utilize the automatic update functions of their operating systems and other computer software to ensure their systems are up-to-date.

Microsoft also confirmed that its testing showed the mitigations did produce "some performance impact", adding it would not be noticeable to most users.

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The update's appearance still depends on the antivirus program that the user employs to protect the computer.

Microsoft patched Windows against the vulnerabilities on Wednesday, but said certain systems would not receive the patch on release, due to a clash with some anti-virus software.

Microsoft has warned that its fix requires all anti-virus vendors to update their software to set a new Windows registry key, or else its security update won't work.

It was not immediately clear whether Intel would face any significant financial liability arising from the reported flaw. Following good security practices that protect against malware in general will also help protect against possible exploitation until updates can be applied. "Google Cloud is architected in a manner that enables us to update the environment while providing operational continuity for our customers", wrote Google executives in a January 5 blog post.

Apple announced on Friday that it is about to release a patch for its Safari web browser on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Most unpatched PCs and servers are susceptible to hackers exploiting the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities to extract sensitive information such as passwords, although Microsoft says it is unaware of the flaws being used in attacks to date.

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