Apple Releases Security Updates for Spectre CPU Flaw

Security patches for Meltdown and Spectre are slowing older systems down

Google disclosed the existence of these CPU flaws last week. And although security patches exist for devices running Linux, Windows and Apple's OS X, the researchers said, the fix may slow down their performance by as much as 30 percent, according to some estimates.

Here's a look at what's affected, what's being done about it and whether you should worry.

ARM is the company behind an architecture that has been shipped in more than four billion chips installed in everything from smartphones to factories, and which is inside chips vulnerable to the Spectre flaw.

Most of the immediate fixes will be limited to the Meltdown bug. The flaws are believed to be more complicated to exploit than other common methods. "Check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available", the company said.

The firm stressed that the exploits would not work against Cortex-M designs, which are used in microcontrollers for the Internet of Things and which have been shipped in tens of millions of devices. "Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are among those reporting that they are seeing little to no performance impact".


Unauthorized access will be hard to detect so cloud-computing providers need to act quickly to protect against these vulnerabilities, said Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint.

On Thursday, Apple confirmed that all Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but that no known exploits have affected its customers.

There are limits to what consumers can do now to protect their computers.

The scramble to harden a broad array of devices comes after researchers found two significant vulnerabilities within modern computing hardware, one of which can not be fully resolved as of yet. It's still unclear whether Apple's A-Series processor will require a separate patch. "We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, and tvOS". The update features security fixes to resolve recent security flaws, namely, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks. "If you aren't up to date, then there's a lot of other nasties out there you should probably also be worrying about".

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