Spectre and Meltdown – What you should be doing to protect yourself

computer hacker

Don’t hit that “update later” button – you really need to update today. Chances are you own one or more devices that are currently vulnerable to hackers.

You may have recently seen news headlines about Spectre & Meltdown CPU security flaws. These flaws have security professionals extremely worried because of the billions of devices that are affected and because there isn’t a real solution as of yet.


There are two security flaws – Spectre and Meltdown. These flaws affect processing chips made by AMD, Intel, & ARM Holdings. This means anyone with a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or cloud service user from Apple, Google, Amazon, or Microsoft vulnerable to hackers being able to access passwords, encryption keys, and other private information.


Before you panic, there are some things to know:


  • So far, it doesn’t look like Spectre and Meltdown have been used in any sort of attack
  • Intel, AMD, and ARM have partnered with device manufacturers to find a fix
  • Intel claims that Sepctre and Meltdown can’t corrupt, modify, or delete data
  • Spectre may need a processor redesign to fix


So what can you do right now?

Good News: Update. Update. Update!

While Spectre is present in billions of devices, Meltdown appears to affect Intel chips only. Meltdown’s only fix may be to replace vulnerable chips altogether. However, that realistically won’t happen very soon. For now, a partial fix is found in software updates.

Many tech firms have already released or are about to release software updates to secure their devices. Microsoft has already released security updates for Windows and updates to cloud services from Google and Amazon are also being released.

Be sure to check your devices in the coming days and look for updates to your software.


Bad News: Slow devices

One of the downsides to all of these software updates is that it may slow your computers, phones, and other devices. The patches available through software updates may slow computers down by as much as 30%, depending on the task you are trying to accomplish.

The Bright Side

Although these flaws provide hackers with new ways to execute attacks, doing so is a bit of a task. It takes a large amount of effort to hack anyone. This may dissuade hackers to target anyone but “big fish”.

For now, there is no real permanent solution. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least do the updates. Keep checking for software updates and next time you see the reminder pop up for an update, do NOT put it off!

There is no guarantee that you won’t get hacked. Almost anything can be hacked these days. However, these are all tips and safeguards that can deter cyberthieves. Hackers are interested in easy targets, if you follow the tips above, you can make it extremely difficult for them to hack you. Thus, they will move on to another, more vulnerable target. At The Tech Zen, we offer a consultation to provide ways to secure your network and add additional layers of protection. Request a consultation with us and we can go over some options that would be best for you. The Tech Zen performs IT services for residential and small business clients throughout South Florida.

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