All iOS and Mac devices affected by Meltdown and Spectre, Apple confirms

05 January, 2018, 12:28 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Hardware fixes are by nature much slower and more difficult than software fixes. tcareob72/Thinkstock

Meltdown affects only Intel Corp chips and Spectre affects almost all computer chips made in the last decade.

Patches against Spectre, in the form of an update to web browser Safari, will be released "in the coming days". The company says that is "has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems", but it is not clear when - or whether - older devices will be treated to patches.

The Apple Watch, which runs a derivative of the iPhone's operating system is not affected, according to the company.

BBC reports that Apple said it had already released some patches but there was no evidence of the vulnerability being had already released "mitigations" against Meltdown in its latest iPhones and iPad operating system update - iOS 11.2 and the macOS 10.12.2 for its MacBooks and iMacs. Apple had been mum on the issue until this evening when a support document confirmed that all Mac systems and iOS devices were vulnerable.

Apple explains that Meltdown "has the the most potential to be exploited", while Spectre is "extremely difficult" to exploit.

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"Both the "Spectre" and "Meltdown" flaws affect the performance of CPU feature called Speculative Execution" which is responsible for improving speed and operate multiple operations.

Apple is continuously developing and testing various mitigations and will release new updates further in all iOS, macOS and tvOS to tackle the situation. These techniques potentially make items in kernel memory available to user processes by taking advantage of a delay in the time it may take the CPU to check the validity of a memory access call. Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store.

Researchers said nearly every computing system - desktops, laptops, smartphones, and cloud servers - is affected by the Spectre bug.

The circumstances that could lead to using the Spectre vulnerability might be a bit more hard to achieve but can still be done using Javascript running on a web browser.

Shortly after the researchers disclosed the chip flaws on Wednesday, Google and Microsoft released statements telling users which of their products were affected.


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