Your iPhones, iPads and MacBooks are vulnerable to hackers, Apple warns

Hardware fixes are by nature much slower and more difficult than software fixes. tcareob72/Thinkstock

What you should do about it?

Companies are rolling out fixes quickly - including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google. While a software patch might mitigate the problem, it is really a hardware issue. These will likely be modified as companies craft the best work-arounds, so it's not likely to be a one-time deal - update early and often!

Google Chromebooks self update. Apple had been mum on the issue until this evening when a support document confirmed that all Mac systems and iOS devices were vulnerable. Similarly, mobile devices too tend to notify users when an update is available.

The company warned users against downloading software from unknown sources in a press release. There is no evidence malicious hackers have exploited the chip flaws, though researchers said it would be hard for investigators to know for sure. In other words, everything from PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets and smartphones are potentially at risk. But patches are coming fast and furious.

What the red text means is that you need additional chipset firmware updates.

Apple says it as of now discharged "alleviations" in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help safeguard against Meltdown. The upgrades come via auto updates. Gmail users do not need to take any additional action to protect themselves, but users of its Chromebooks, Chrome web browser and users of Google Cloud services who have installed their own operating systems will need to install updates. "For a cloud service provider, this could enable attacks between customers". The latest Linux kernel has also been patched.

The leading chipmakers Intel, AMD and ARM are facing a vulnerability that afflicts "modern computing devices" and can grant hackers access to sensitive data. Spectre is more complex and allows attackers to read information from other running programs. It has also published a technical paper outlining how the flaws can be mitigated. Experts believe that fixing the Spectre flaw could require an entire overhaul of how processors and chips are designed. Both use what's known as a side-channel analysis attack.

Advice from the U.S Computer Emergency Readiness Team's was grim.

Once you've run the file or added the registry key manually, your PC will receive the patches for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. You can also check by going to Settings System About and scrolling down to the Windows specifications section.

Meltdown and Spectre have the potential to affect almost all kinds of devices that have a CPU. Meltdown appears to be specific to chips made by Intel.

However, Apple Watch may not be affected by "Meltdown" since an Intel chip isn't used in that device.

How much could the hackers see?

How did this exist for so long?

In a blog post, the firm said its Project Zero security team had already fixed the bug after it discovered the CPU vulnerability previous year.

The researchers alerted chip and software companies, which began writing patches and fixes. This created buzz in the broader computer security community.

The flaws were first reported by tech publication The Register.

Why do we only know now?

It's a very complex and rarified attack and one that until a few months ago no one even realized was possible.

So what does one of the biggest security vendors have to say?

How can I be sure I'm protected?



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