New Intel patches promise immunity to Meltdown and Spectre attacks


The world and its dog have been following the rather scary story of the Meltdown and Spectre CPU exploits. As a quick recap, a security vulnerability in most modern CPUs allows a standard unprivileged program to extract sensitive information in memory, like passwords and encryption keys. Intel CPUs are particularly affected since the Meltdown vulnerability is apparently specific to them. The company's now issued a statement saying it's "made significant progress" in deploying software patches and firmware updates to partners that will make its chips "immune" to the exploits.

Intel says that it already has patches in place for "the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years." The company's own list of affected CPUs extends much farther back than that, so it's possible that not all systems will see a fix. The company also says that many operating system vendors, cloud service providers, device manufacturers already have their products and services all patched up.

Intel also has a word on the rumors about the scary-high performance hits of the patches for these vulnerabilities on software running on its CPUs. The CPU maker insists that the performance impact is "highly workload-dependent" and that it shouldn't be significant to the average computer user. The company also thinks that the performance drops will decrease over time as the software updates are tested and improved. Whatever the case may be, both Intel's advice and ours remains the same: patch all your systems as soon as updates are available.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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