Researchers from Google, academia and cybersecurity firms discovered two flaws in computer chips that affect nearly all modern computers. The following are your ‘must know’ facts about Meltdown and Spectre security flaws:
1. “Meltdown” is a flaw that affects laptops, desktop computers and internet servers with Intel chips and could let hackers steal data, such as passwords saved in web browsers. Microsoft, Apple and Linux, the three major operating systems, are all issuing updates, though Apple has not said precisely when.
2. “Spectre” affects chips in smartphones and tablets, as well as computer chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Hackers can trick apps into leaking sensitive information.
3. Spectre is less dangerous than Meltdown, but will be more difficult to patch.
4. Consumers should check with their device maker and operating system provider for security updates and install them as soon as possible.
5. Alphabet’s Google said Android phones with the most recent security updates are protected, and users of popular web services like Gmail are also safe. Chromebook users on older versions will need to install an update whose release date has not been set. Chrome web browser users are expected to receive a patch on January 23.
6. Researchers say an update is in the work for Apple laptops and desktops, but it is not yet clear whether the company’s iPhones and iPads are at risk.
7. Major cloud services aimed at business customers—including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure—say they have already patched most of their services and will fix the rest soon.