With the new major processor flaw discovered in Intel chips this week, the extent of damage is just about hitting home.
Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” the two put almost every device launched since 1995 at risk, and the tech industry is scrambling to formulate quick fixes for their consumers.
As we’ve already discussed, the flaw isn’t just limited to Intel’s chips as previously thought, and it can also allow an attacker to steal data from concurrently running apps on your PC or smartphone. Hackers could steal anything from photos, to passwords, to even monitor your keystrokes while active.
So you wanna stay safe, but that’s not the easiest prospect right now. All you can really do is make sure you update your OS and browsers with the latest security patches coming soon, and keep to the usual checklist of best secure practices online.
Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla are all patching their browsers first to protect against the exploit. Edge and Firefox already have patchfixes available, with Chrome getting it with the next update on January 23. Apple has so far been silent on what it plans to do for its Safari browser, but hopefully they have some sort of fix in the works.
However, that’s just the most basic level of protection. For Windows itself, which is vulnerable as a whole, Microsoft has issued an emergency security patch through its update service. Unfortunately, if you’re using a third-party antivirus (and you probably are) you probably won’t see it just yet. It’s still unclear which of them are compatible, and that could take a while to figure out.
Meanwhile, you also need a separate firmware update for your Intel processor, from whichever company’s device you own. Intel has thankfully released a tool (Windows and Linux) that lets you check to see if your hardware is at risk, then it’s up to the manufacturer to patch.
So basically, check your browser for the latest update (Chrome users will have to wait till the end of the month), update your Windows, grab the firmware update from your manufacturer, and as usual don’t click any strange links online guys.
After that sit tight, because these were just the steps for Meltdown. Spectre, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s harder to exploit, but also harder to fix, and that could take a long time, and maybe even a redesign of current processors.