Complete I.T. Blog

A vulnerability for Intel, Arm and AMD processors

by | Jan 4, 2018 | Archived Articles

As you will be aware, Cyber Security is a hot topic and as your IT partner, we like to make you aware of the latest threats that may affect you.

You may have seen published in the media, a vulnerability for Intel, Arm and AMD processors which were manufactured in the past 10 years, has been identified. The flaw affects a section of the processor that’s used to read large parts of a program’s code ahead of it actually being executed. This ultimately allows computers to run programs faster, but will only really be noticeable with higher intensive tasks such as in graphical applications or when processing large spreadsheets. The pre-read code is stored in a special layer between the main processor and the operating system known as the ‘kernel’. The vulnerability would potentially allow an attacker to access this pre-executed data which may contain specific user information such as passwords.

The processors involved within this flaw will affect most devices; laptops, desktops, smartphones and servers. Manufactures of these, along with operating system providers have been working on patches to address the potential flaw. Once the patches are released, there is potential that you will notice a decrease in performance once it has been applied.  This won’t necessarily be noticeable for everyday use, but if a machine is used for intensive tasks, it may not perform as previously experienced.

At present, there are no known attacks via this vulnerability, but now that it has been made public, there is potential for attackers to develop ways to exploit it.  As the manufacturers have been aware of this for some time, the development of the patches is well underway.  

It is important to take all steps possible to protect yourself and installing security updates to address vulnerabilities is an easy and quick way to achieve this.  Microsoft is releasing patches as we speak which will be available via their Windows Update service.  We believe that Google Android devices with the latest security patches applied are already protected against the flaw.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.