Sumup: CPU hardware vulnerable to side-channel attacks (Meltdown, Spectre and more)

If you’re confused by the avalanche of early reports, denials, and conflicting statements about the massive security issues announced in the last days, don’t worry — you’re far from the only one.

Here’s what you need to know about Meltdown and Spectre, the two huge bugs that affect practically every computer and device out there.

Source of the article:

Kernel panic! What are Meltdown and Spectre, the bugs affecting nearly every computer and device?

 

What are these flaws?

Short answer: Bugs at a fundamental level that allow critical information stored deep inside computer systems to be exposed.

 

 

 

Meltdown

Meltdown

Meltdown breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system. This attack allows a program to access the memory, and thus also the secrets, of other programs and the operating system.

If your computer has a vulnerable processor and runs an unpatched operating system, it is not safe to work with sensitive information without the chance of leaking the information. This applies both to personal computers as well as cloud infrastructure. Luckily, there are software patches against Meltdown.

Spectre

Spectre

Spectre breaks the isolation between different applications. It allows an attacker to trick error-free programs, which follow best practices, into leaking their secrets. In fact, the safety checks of said best practices actually increase the attack surface and may make applications more susceptible to Spectre

Spectre is harder to exploit than Meltdown, but it is also harder to mitigate. However, it is possible to prevent specific known exploits based on Spectre through software patches.

 

What are the operating systems doing to fix it?

 

Windows has released an update on January 3rd, but there are many issues with it.It is not known yet if the the older OSs will get an update. http://news.softpedia.com/news/microsoft-releases-updates-for-its-devices-to-fix-meltdown-and-spectre-flaws-519236.shtml

Linux kernel has released also a patch. It is not known yet if the the older OSs will get an update.http://news.softpedia.com/dyn-search.php?search_term=meltdown+linux

MacOS has released a patch for the latest MacOSX (Sierra). It is not known yet if the the older OSs will get an update.http://news.softpedia.com/dyn-search.php?search_term=meltdown+apple

 

 

What’s the catch?

Initial documents were reporting that the processors will slow down up to 25%. A new paper from Intel says that it is not going to be relevant: http://news.softpedia.com/news/windows-10-not-slowed-down-by-meltdown-and-spectre-patches-519240.shtml

 

Keep up to date:

http://news.softpedia.com/dyn-search.php?search_term=meltdown

 

The good news 🙂

All Raspberry Pi Devices Are Immune to the Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities: http://news.softpedia.com/news/raspberry-pi-devices-aren-t-affected-by-the-meltdown-and-spectre-vulnerabilities-519255.shtml

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since year 2000 in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is an independent IT Security Consultant focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .

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