Spectre and Meltdown: Computer Chip Security Flaw Update

By January 8, 2018 Announcements, Security
Computer chip flaw: Spectre and Meltdown

It has been another interesting week in the IT business! We wanted you to have an update going into this week about Spectre and Meltdown, the computer chip security flaws. We will all get a lot more information this week and we will keep you informed. Just trying not to add to the “fake news” that is out there.

Bottom line: OXEN Technology is working with our leading industry partners, including Intel and Microsoft, to take measured and appropriate steps to mitigate the risk that we and our clients have from recently discovered security vulnerabilities.

If you’ve been keeping up with computer news over the last few days, you might have heard about Spectre and Meltdown. You might be wondering what they are, what they can do, and how they will affect you. Basically, Meltdown and Spectre are the names for multiple new vulnerabilities discovered and reported for numerous computer processors. Meltdown is a vulnerability for Intel processors while Spectre can be used to attack nearly all processor types.

The potential danger of an attack using these vulnerabilities includes being able to read “secured” memory. This can do things like reveal personally identifiable information, banking information, and of course usernames and passwords.

Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and other vendors have been releasing patches to help protect users from these vulnerabilities. You may have heard that some of the updates from Microsoft may negatively interact with certain anti-virus solutions. We always work hard to make sure any “patch” to a system doesn’t create other problems. We have verified with our anti-virus and anti-malware software companies (Webroot and Malwarebytes) that they are compatible with the latest Microsoft updates.

The best thing to do to protect each of our businesses is to update our browsers and our operating systems with these patches as soon as updates are available. The updates currently available are in our update stream and are rolling out across our base of managed clients according to the existing update windows and processes.

We will learn over the coming days and weeks about the potential performance impact on existing computers, as well as the need for firmware or other updates. We hear a lot of speculation about this issue, so I will save a better update until we know more. Our best information has us expecting that older computers will be hit the hardest on the performance front. Hopefully, the chip and hardware vendors will have good news for us.

Bob Gentzler
President
bgentzler@oxen.tech


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