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Recent Security Flaws Detected in Computer Chips

THREAT: Two security flaws have been discovered that affect nearly all microprocessors, the digital brains of the world’s computers.

Dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, these major security flaws found in microprocessors are causing havoc amongst tech giants.  Up against the clock, experts are working to create patches to fix this problem that affects the running of every IT system in the world.

What are Meltdown and Spectre?
Meltdown affects most processors made by Intel, the company that supplies the chips for a majority of PCs and more than 90 percent of computer servers.  Spectre is more difficult for hackers to exploit. But it is even more pervasive, affecting Intel chips, microprocessors from the longtime Intel rival AMD and the many chips that use designs from the British company ARM. Your smartphone most likely contains an ARM chip.  Both flaws provide hackers with a way of stealing data, including passwords and other sensitive information.  If hackers manage to get software running on one of these chips, they can grab data from other software running on the same machine.

Of more significant concern are cloud computing services.  Cloud services use servers that are typically shared by many different customers.  If exploited, a hacker can just load some software onto a cloud service and then grab data from anyone else who has loaded software onto the same server.

What Can You Do?
Keeping software up-to-date is your best line of defense.  Look out for security updates offered by the chip makers themselves, and by the operating systems providers: Microsoft for Windows, Apple for iOS and Google for Android and Linux.

Also, keep alert of potential malware.  In order for a personal computer to be compromised, hackers must first find a way to gain access to information elsewhere on the machine.  This could come from the user downloading software in an email, from an app store or visiting an infected website.

BMT is aware of all available patches.  If you are a BMT Managed Services client, we will be making necessary updates by installing these patches for you.  If you are not, please contact us to learn what you can do to ensure your systems are secure. 

For more details:
NY Times Article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/business/computer-flaws.html

MSN News Article: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/flawed-computer-chips-and-how-to-fix-them/ar-BBHZNLd?li=AA4Zoy&ocid=spartanntp

Bloomberg Article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-08/-it-can-t-be-true-inside-the-semiconductor-industry-s-meltdown

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