Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of processors, has discovered a vulnerability in their processor design that could affect devices manufactured back as far as 20 years, according to GeekWire Magazine.

The Problem

Simply put, the processor of your computer is the brainpower that drives everything that happens in your computer.  Inside processors there is small, protected space called “kernel memory” which is dedicated to the most essential core components of your operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc.) and its interactions with the hardware.  It is intended to be off-limits to other software.  However, the design flaw has made it so that other software, including malicious software such as viruses and spyware, can actually access the kernel memory.

The fix

Due to the nature of the vulnerability, the fix will come from your devices’ operating system manufacturer in the form of security patches.  However, security patches that mitigate the risk of the Intel Meltdown flaw may conflict with your antivirus program.  This means that you will first need to ensure that antivirus definitions are up to date.  From there, you can move forward with security patches for operating systems as well as firmware updates from your computer’s manufacturer. Currently, there is no other option for mitigating the vulnerability.

Intel has noted that there may be a performance impact for computers that came with the first release of Windows 10, along with Windows 8 and Windows 7 systems.  The extent of the impact is not yet known and could vary dramatically from system to system. Newer Windows 10 systems should not experience any reduction in performance.

 

Concerned about how your systems and devices could be impacted? Contact Dataworks Consulting for guidance.