Chip vulnerability – what we know

Written by Mark Evans

Security flaws in the vast majority of devices have been exposed in the last few days, and as the producers scrabble to fix the issues, it is worth looking at exactly what the problems are.

Researchers discovered gaps in security in the CPUs from most of the major manufactures: Intel, ARM and AMD. The vulnerability leaves devices using these chips – including PCs, mobiles, servers etc open to attacks by hackers, potentially exposing data.

In fact there are two security flaws: Meltdown and Spectre. Meltdown affects PC and servers with Intel chips and Spectre affects mobiles, tablets and PCs powered by Intel, ARM and AMD.

So far there is no evidence of these flaws being used – but know they are know there is something of a race between those fixing the issue and those trying to exploit it.
Naturally, the best defence is to keep all devises updated with the latest patches, and Apple, Linux and Microsoft are providing updates.

Google has said that Android devices are not affected.

In the medium-term, fixes of the flaws could slow down computers – and the launch of new chips from the manufacturers as they attempt to deal with the design issues.