Friday/ what a tangled web we weave

Bloomberg Businessweek calls the Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities in billions of Intel & Apple computers all over the world, that became public early this January, ‘staggering security flaws’. (Intel is getting most of the flak. Ninety percent of the world’s computers, and 99% of servers, run on Intel chips).

So ..  is there a somewhat straightforward explanation of these two types of  attacks? And what is a poor sap such as me to do with his computers and devices (besides taking up a life in the woods and refrain from using them)?

It turns out almost all the big tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others) have worked together since June 2017 to create software patches so that hackers would not exploit the flaws.  But fixing the problem for all platform and hardware combinations still has a long way to go.

As always, users should update their Linux, Windows, Apple MacOS or Apple iOS device operating systems, as soon as upgrades and fixes become available. Use proper passwords (and change them from time to time). Never click on links in suspicious e-mails (or: ‘don’t run someone else’s code on your machine’). Consider installing a Java script blocker such as uBlock Origin for browsers.

The problem is that the patches are causing PCs to freeze up or slow down, among other issues. Linux inventor Linus Torvalds called Intel out and says some of the proposed fixes are ‘complete and utter garbage’.

Highly simplified descriptions of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. They have even been given their own ‘logos’ by the teams that identified the flaws, and that are working on solutions for fixing it.

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