Chip Flaw Impacts Nearly All Devices
Meltdown and Spectre
Processing chips are a fundamental part of functioning computer. Rarely do we see flaws in such integral hardware. Now two separate flaws have been found that appear to impact nearly all processing chips. Nicknamed “Meltdown” and “Spectre” these are flaws that go all the way down to the architecture of the chip; meaning, they aren’t going to be easy fixes.
Fundamental Chip Flaws
Processing chips act as the brain for any computer and data that passes through is supposed to be isolated. Meltdown and Spectre are flaws that allow this isolation to be broken and the raw data being processed to be seen. Meltdown and Spectre differ slightly in how they work. First, Meltdown works by breaking down the separation of data, allowing a applications to access areas they shouldn’t. Second, is Spectre, which can trick applications into giving information that is normally in a protected memory area. While there may be ways to fix or mitigate some of the potential risk, it’s going to come at a cost. These breaches arise from a fundamental flaw in how chips work; so, any patch will interfere with how a chip normally operates. This will likely reduce speeds of processors with estimates ranging from a five to thirty percent reduction in speed.
Short Term Solutions
At the moment there is little that can actually be done. There is no easy fix to something that is flawed so fundamentally in a computer system. Operating systems are releasing patches to help reduce risk as soon as they are able. Insure your system is up to date as soon as possible to protect yourself. Future solutions will have to come from the system architecture in order to fully solve the problem. Check back with Protocol 46 for future updates on this story, and other cyber news.