The Register reported yesterday that Intel processors have a design flaw, dubbed “Meltdown,” that allows secure portions of code to be monitored and exploited at the hardware level. Unlike typical software-based security vulnerabilities, hardware flaws are more widespread and independent of operating systems. “Spectre,” a similar hardware flaw, affects more than just Intel processors, but it is being dealt with by software developers simultaneously.
Software patches are expected very soon from Microsoft and across a variety of Linux distributions. Users of macOS version 10.13.2 or greater have already received a patch to address this issue.
UPDATE: Microsoft’s software patch is now available via Windows Update.
What does this mean for me?
Data is still being gathered, but the forthcoming software updates have the potential to cause up to a 30 percent performance hit as the issue is circumvented. This number will be lower in some combinations of hardware, though decreased performance is expected in all Intel-based systems.
Since most of the world’s cloud storage systems use Intel hardware, the services offered by Microsoft and Amazon (the backbone for Dropbox) are likely to perform slower and/or experience interruptions in the coming weeks as this issue develops.
Please allow this to serve as another reminder to keep your PC software updated and reference our “How To” section here for other tips.
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