On Wednesday, Alphabet Inc’s Google and other security researchers disclosed two major chip flaws, one called Meltdown affecting only Intel Corp chips and one called Spectre affecting nearly all computer chips made in the last decade.
Google’s Project Zero team said on Wednesday that the flaws could allow hackers and such to gather passwords and other sensitive data from a system’s memory. The tech company disclosed the vulnerability not long after Intel said it’s working to patch it. Intel says the average computer user won’t experience significant slowdown as it’s fixed.
Apple has warned owners of its iPhones, iPads and computers that the devices are affected by a processor flaw that could leave them vulnerable to hackers. The company advised millions of customers to download software only from trusted sources. Apple said it had already released some patches but there was no evidence that the vulnerability had been exploited.
“All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time,” Apple said in blog post on the issue.
Apple said it had already released “mitigations” against Meltdown in its latest iPhones and iPad operating system update – iOS 11.2 and the macOS 10.13.2 for its MacBooks and iMacs. Meltdown does not affect the Apple Watch, it said, as the bug was an issue with Intel processors which are not contained in that device. Patches against Spectre, in the form of an update to web browser Safari, will be released “in the coming days”.
Apple was one of the last remaining holdouts to speak up about Meltdown and Spectre, although it was already widely believed that Apple devices were affected due to the company’s use of components from chip manufactures like Intel and ARM.
Google has said Android phones are protected if users have installed the latest updates, while Microsoft claimed it has already released fixes. Researchers said almost every computing system – desktops, laptops, smartphones, and cloud servers, is affected by the Spectre bug. Meltdown appears to be specific to chips made by Intel. Fixing the problems will slow a computer’s performance, experts say, especially on devices more than five years old. So, please do take care of your device!