Intel Finally Releases Safe-to-Install Spectre Patches

Intel Spectre

Intel Finally Releases Safe-to-Install Spectre Patches

Sound advice, but a bit hard to swallow given that Shenoy's "Security Issue Update" revealed that Intel is yet to develop properly working microcode updates for numerous CPUs imperilled by Spectre and Meltdown.

The company this week released "production microcode updates for several Skylake-based platforms" to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and partners, according to a February 7 announcement by Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group.

Intel has announced its second crack at tackling the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, releasing a revised microcode for a subset of its chips which it claims will not repeat the random crash issues of its previous release.

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'Ultimately, these updates will be made available in most cases through OEM firmware updates. For the time being, Intel says that it is now testing and releasing beta microcode updates for additional platforms to its OEM partners.

If you own a Skylake-based PC and receive a patch to address the Spectre vulnerabilities, install it - Intel has greenlit the code.

The new microcode update is being rolled out to manufacturers and will only apply to 6th-generation Skylake processors. We also continue to release beta microcode updates so that customers and partners have the opportunity to conduct extensive testing before we move them into production. Shenoy strongly emphasizes the importance of keeping systems updated to keep them secure, as well.

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To enforce the idea that patches should be installed, Shenoy cites a report from The Department of Homeland Security's cyber-emergency unit (US-CERT), that claims "as many as 85 percent of all targeted attacks can be prevented with - among other things - regular system updates". That includes both OS updates and new BIOS releases. "Research tells us there is frequently a substantial lag between when people receive updates and when they actually implement them", Intel's Navin Shenoy stated in a blog post.

Updates for systems running on other processors, such as Haswell and Broadwell-based computers, are in development, but not available yet.

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