What is it?
Announced publicly on the 3rd January, you may have seen various sites talking about the recent discovery of two potentially harmful bugs found in processing chips. The bugs, called Meltdown and Spectre, exist on devices with Intel, AMD and ARM processors, so practically all computer, laptops, smartphones and servers out there, regardless of manufacturer. Both bugs could be exploited by a malicious program which would allow an attacker to steal your data including things like (and not limited to) passwords, pictures, e-mails and business documents.
Don’t worry. Although it affects practically everyone, there is no evidence yet that the bug has been exploited. However, with such a huge variety of devices being found to be at risk and with vulnerabilities in chips dating back to 2011, you do need to be aware of the risk. Microsoft Windows 10, Apple MacOS, Linux and Android have already started rolling out update and patches.
How can you prevent attacks?
Like most cyber threats, before Meltdown and Spectre can be used by attackers, it requires a malicious program to be downloaded onto your computer. The current advice is to:
- Make sure you/your staff are extra vigilant when clicking on e-mails and downloading files from the internet
- Check all your devices are updated to the most recent security software and updates as soon as they become available
- Consider upgrading old Windows PCs to Windows 10, likewise Server operating systems to latest versions. Or at least ensure all up to date patches are being applied.
- Be warned that the fixes/updates may slow down older PC’s, so you need to be aware of employee complaints of slow speeds and consider upgrading hardware sooner rather than later.
For further advice in preventing malicious software from accessing your computer, read here.