What are Meltdown/Spectre?

What are Meltdown/Spectre?

Whilst the media frenzy starts to settle, it hopefully puts some minds at ease knowing that at current the NCSC report that there is no evidence of any malicious exploitation of the reported flaws.

With that in mind, all organisations and home users however should continue to ensure their systems are protected by installing patches as soon as they become available.

What are Meltdown/Spectre?
‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ are two security flaws affecting microprocessors. Actions that would have normally been difficult for an attacker, such as recovering passwords, are theoretically easier.

However, an attacker would still need to run code on your device. Access would typically be gained via well-known means, such as phishing attacks or browsing malicious websites.

What are the vulnerabilities?
Processors in most devices employ a range of techniques to speed up their operation. The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities allow some of these techniques to be abused, to obtain information about areas of memory not normally visible to an attacker.

What can I do to protect myself and my organisation?
Device and platform manufacturers are releasing updates to supported products which will mitigate this issue.  Ensure that the latest patches have been installed, and that you are not using unsupported devices as these will not be fixed. 

Sedcom are currently monitoring vendor responses in order to best assess when and how to deploy relevant patches. Microsoft have released a patch for their Windows 10 operating system with Windows 7 and 8.1 to follow shortly. In order for this patch to install it requires any installed Antivirus solution to be compatible, we have been monitoring AV responses to this incident where most are now listing themselves as supported (e.g. Trend, ESET, Bitdefender, Symantec, Sophos etc). Vendors such as Apple and Google are also issuing relevant patches. Sedcom will be liaising with all of our clients over the coming days to begin ensuring all systems where appropriate are protected.

For some further information and guidance please review the links below:

ncsc ‘Meltdown and Spectre’ guidance one 

ncsc Home user guidance to manage processor vulnerabilities ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’

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