We had hoped to ease into the New Year with a positive, "make it your best year yet" message, but this urgent news can't wait. We've just learned that two vulnerabilities called Meltdown and Spectre could affect nearly every modern computer or laptop around today.
Meltdown and Spectre are both hardware vulnerabilities in modern processors like the chips made by Intel and AMD. Computers running Microsoft Windows, Apple's macOS and Linux variants are all at risk. This could mean that every computer on your network, including workstations and servers are affected.
Computer researchers have recently found out that the processing chip — the CPU — has a hardware bug. It's really a design flaw in the hardware that has been there for years. This hardware bug allows malicious programs to steal data that is being processed in your computer memory. Normally, applications are not able to do that because they are isolated from each other and the operating system. This hardware bug breaks that isolation.
So, if a hacker is able to get malicious software running on your computer, they can get access to your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.
We are sure you want to know more, so here are some questions and answers for you.
Most certainly, yes.
Probably not. The exploitation does not leave any traces in traditional log files.
While possible in theory, this is unlikely in practice. Unlike usual malware, Meltdown and Spectre are hard to distinguish from regular benign applications. However, your antivirus may detect malware which uses the attacks by comparing binaries after they become known.
If your system is affected, it's likely the exploit can read the memory content of your computer. This may include passwords and sensitive data stored on the system.
There are patches against Meltdown for Linux, Windows, and OS X. There is also on-going work to harden software against future exploitation of Spectre.
Desktop, laptop, and cloud computers may be affected by Meltdown. More technically, every Intel processor which implements out-of-order execution is potentially affected, which is effectively every processor since 1995 (except Intel Itanium and Intel Atom before 2013). Researchers successfully tested Meltdown on Intel processor generations released as early as 2011. Currently, Meltdown is only verified on Intel processors. At the moment, it is unclear whether AMD processors are also affected by Meltdown. According to ARM, some of their processors are also affected.
Almost every system is affected by Spectre: desktops, laptops, cloud servers, as well as smartphones. More specifically, all modern processors capable of keeping many instructions in flight are potentially vulnerable. In particular, Spectre is verified on Intel, AMD, and ARM processors.
If you are an eNet Systems client with a monthly plan, we are in the process of updating your systems with the patches released by Microsoft and other companies. This is going to take some time because some of the patches are not available from the manufacturers yet. However, they will be installed by us once they’re available. This vulnerability will be here for a long time. In the meantime, we need you to take the following steps:
* Be extra vigilant and always keep security on your mind. In other words, think before you click. Your system has to be infected for the bad guys to exploit this vulnerability. The safest way to protect your computers is to be a good Internet citizen and not let your computers get infected.
* Do not open files you were not expecting in emails.
* Do not visit websites you don’t trust. Malicious website links can be presented to you within emails, on social websites, various content download websites, and through Internet search results.
* Inform your teams of this threat and encourage them to be vigilant as well. Get training for your team members on how to be safe on the Internet. The Internet Safety Training is part of your monthly plan with eNet so contact us to schedule one.
* Do not plug USB drives into your computers if you don’t know the source of those drives.
Be safe out there!
In the meantime, please visit our website to view the official security advisories from a number of companies on this serious issue.
Source: Meltdownattack.com & 5kTech