Unauthorized access will be hard to detect so cloud-computing providers need to act quickly to protect against these vulnerabilities, said Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint. For now, there are a few separate courses of action to follow to fortify your device, depending on which operating system you have.
If you use a computer, smartphone, tablet, smart TV or any other computing device, you're nearly definitely affected, and there's no real way to detect if someone's trying to crack into your device, system or cloud account.
If there's one thing you hope your computer can do, it's protect your information in a secure, thoughtful way.
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The good news is researchers and companies said there is no evidence of these flaws being exploited in the wild.
Hardware fixes are, by nature, much slower and more hard (and more expensive!) than software fixes. This might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.
Apple said all Mac systems, iPhones and iPads were affected - with only the Apple Watch spared - but there were no known exploits impacting customers so far. Spectre and Meltdown were discovered by a group of independent, academic, and industry researchers, including a team at the Graz Technical University in Austria, researcher Paul Kocher, and Google's Project Zero security team. Patches and mitigation techniques have already been released by most major vendors. The Meltdown flaw is specific to Intel chips, and it strikes at the heart of how CPUs process information.
Google provides a helpful list of its products and services affected by the chip bugs, as well as their mitigation status. Although Linux does have mitigations in place, Linux creator Linus Torvalds is among those who aren't entirely convinced that software will fix all the issues. Google's Pixel phones will receive it automatically, while owners of other Android devices are at the mercy of their device manufacturers and wireless carriers, which decide when updates are rolled out. A fix was included in Chrome OS 63 in December, so up-to-date Chromebooks received protection.
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An unfortunate downside of the software updates is that they might slow your computers and smartphones.
Fixes: Released on Windows, servers, cloud, and Edge and Internet Explorer browsers.
Firefox versions 57 and up have also implemented a quick fix by reducing the ability of websites to gain access to the precise timing details that would be required to execute an attack. "In this case, the security researchers presented their findings in confidence, and we and other companies worked together to verify their results, develop and validate firmware and operating system updates for impacted technologies, and make them widely available as rapidly as possible", the company said in a blog post Wednesday. If you don't have automatic updates turned on, go to Windows Settings to manually update.
If it sounds like computer security is becoming a major issue, that's because it is. Microsoft said users should check with their computer manufacturers for more information.
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