'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' security exploits affect multiple CPUs

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There has been a great deal of talk about whether the patches that are developed for Meltdown and Spectre will result in a performance hit for users.

Apple on Thursday said all of its computers, iPhones and iPads are affected by the two newly discovered flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre.

Apple is also claiming that they have since released mitigations for the bug in various versions of iOS, macOS, and tvOS, while stating that the Apple Watch is not affected by it. "Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown".

It may be easier for some of the big businesses affected by the vulnerabilities to take action. Patches to the Linux kernel are available now and will begin rolling out to end users shortly, while Windows Update has received an out-of-band patch - though one which won't install without a specific non-default registry key being set.

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In research published online late last night, Google didn't provide specific ways in which an attack could take place, but many security experts that looked over the Meltdown and Spectre academic papers said that web-based attacks are possible, and not just attacks using locally-delivered malicious code.

On Thursday, Apple confirmed that all Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but that no known exploits have impacted its customers. An update to Mozilla's Firefox browser, bringing it to 57.0.4 in the stable release and 58beta14 in the pre-release branch, introduce protections against Meltdown and Spectre exploitation through the browser, while Google's Chrome will soon receive the same protections.

Microsoft said in a statement Thursday that it is not aware of any of these vulnerabilities being used against its customers. An update to Safari to protect against Spectre is promised in the coming days. However, no data breaches have been reported as yet, even though the vulnerabilities exist in the majority of processors dating from 1995. The founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P. Bezos, also owns The Washington Post. However, it advised all its users, in addition to the necessary security updates, to avoid downloading software and applications from Internet sources that are not fully reliable. But AMD jumped more than 5 percent following the publication of the security flaws, to close at $12.12 a share.

The Meltdown and Spectre bugs affect a variety of CPUs, including Intel chips and ARM chips on mobile devices. "Most of the software vendors welcome that interaction as long as you see this disclosure in private first, so you have a chance to fix the bugs".

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