Meltdown & Spectre: How to Protect From Them

The compatibility issue is caused when antivirus applications make unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory. These calls may cause stop errors that make the device unable to boot.” (Microsoft blog)

Be proactive with cybersecurity!

The year 2018 started and new challenges quickly arose in IT Security. Computer researchers have found out that the main chip in most modern computers has a hardware bug. It’s really a design flaw that has been there for years. This is a big deal because it affects almost every computer in the network, including workstations and servers.

This hardware bug allows malicious programs to steal data that is being processed in the computer memory. Normally, applications are not able to do that because they are isolated from each other and the operating system. This hardware bug breaks that isolation.

In recent weeks, this hardware bug has raised a lot of questions that deserve that we give it some attention.

Meltdown and Spectre are new vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-5715, CVE-2017-5753, and CVE-2017-5754) that were discovered.

Meltdown is a security flaw that could allow hackers to bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s core memory, which is normally highly protected.

Spectre is slightly different. It potentially allows hackers to trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information.

If hackers are able to get malicious software running on the computer, they can get access to passwords stored in a password manager or browser, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

How can we protect against them?

 

We need to update and patch all machines on the network. This is going to take some time, some of the patches are not even available yet. In the meantime, you need to be extra vigilant, including incoming emails and visited websites.

Windows OS (7/8/10) and Microsoft Edge/IE users

Microsoft has released a security update (KB4056892) for Windows 10 to address the Meltdown issue and patches for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

If you are running a third-party antivirus software then it is possible your system won’t install patches automatically. So, if you are having trouble installing the automatic security update, you must turn off your antivirus and use Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials.

Linux Distribution Users

The Linux kernel developers have also released patches for the Linux kernel with releases including versions 4.14.11, 4.9.74, 4.4.109, 3.16.52, 3.18.91 and 3.2.97, which can be downloaded from Kernel.org.

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