Intel starts issuing patches for Meltdown, Spectre vulnerabilities

Meltdown and Spectre

Intel also played down concerns about slowed performance due to the updates, noting that for the "average computer user", the impact should not be significant and will lessen over time. The computing industry is scrambling to lessen the severity of the problem with updates to operating systems, web browsers, cloud-computing services and other foundations that need to be kept secure.

But Intel continues to claim, alarmingly, that the flaws that led to these exploits are not "bugs" in its processors.

Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email, "We are in the process of deploying mitigations to cloud services and have also released security updates to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities affecting supported hardware chips from Intel, Arm, and AMD".

Meltdown appears to only affect CPUs released by Intel, whereas Spectre also impacts processors from AMD and ARM-based chips in mobile & entertainment devices.

The release goes on to tout the "great progress" Intel has made in just days since news of these security flaws was broken by Google Project Zero, a team of security analysts employed by Google tasked with finding zero-day vulnerabilities.

Security researchers have found this vulnerability in chips built by Intel, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and ARM Holdings.

Intel headquarters
Apple confirms iPhone, Mac affected by Meltdown-Spectre vulnerabilities

The revelations "attack the foundational modern computer building block capability that enforces protection of the (operating system)", said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at security firm McAfee. We invite you to install this emergency update as soon as possible, though Microsoft explained yesterday that some versions of anti-virus software may block the installation of the patch.

Google agrees. In a blog posted on Thursday, the tech giant says it created a technique called "Retpoline" that protects against the attack with minimal impact on performance.

What is worse is that Intel's chips from the past decade, are the ones affected.

"In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services". Most devices, especially older models and budget smartphones are not on the latest security update. If an attacker could sneak software onto your computing device, that malware could use the vulnerabilities to read private data it shouldn't be able to see - like encryption keys, passwords, bank account numbers and other sensitive data. When exploited, the bug can permit hackers with access to users' sensitive information.

Google said users of Android phones - who make up more than 80 percent of the global market - were protected if they had installed the latest security updates.

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