Apple says Meltdown and Spectre flaws affect all Mac and iOS devices

Apple says Meltdown and Spectre flaws affect all Mac and iOS devices

Apple says Meltdown and Spectre flaws affect all Mac and iOS devices

While Meltdown is specific to Intel chips, Spectre affects chips from Intel, AMD and Arm.

In a blog post, Apple said it had released software updates for iOS, its phone and tablets software, macOS, used by its computers, and tvOS for its television products. It urges users to only download software from trusted sources, i.e. the App Store, and has already released 'mitigations against one of the flaws in its latest iPhone and iPad operating system updates.

The US tech giant said the processor flaw, known as Meltdown and Spectre, could leave millions of customers exposed to security vulnerabilities.

Further mitigations will be released in the coming days in Apple's Safari to help defend against Spectre. Ben Johnson, co-founder and chief strategist for cyber security firm Carbon Black, said the delay in updating customers about whether Apple's devices are at risk could affect Apple's drive to get more business customers to adopt its hardware.

"Apple's statement does not make it clear if these vulnerabilities have been addressed in older versions of iOS and Mac, but for Macs, there were security updates for older versions of macOS released alongside macOS 10.13.2, so it's possible fixes are already available for Sierra and El Capitan". "We proceed to create and test encourage alleviations for these issues and will discharge them in up and coming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS", the article states.

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Even so, as Devin Coldewey reports for Techcrunch: "If you're wondering why people keep saying, "mitigate" instead of "fix" or "counteract" or something, it's because Meltdown and Spectre take advantage of computing practices so basic that avoiding them is extremely hard and complex".

The Meltdown and Spectre exploitation techniques abuse speculative execution to access privileged memory such as passwords, encryption keys, or sensitive information, including that of the kernel-from a less-privileged user process such as a malicious app running on a device. Apple notes, however, that Spectre can be exploited in JavaScript running in a web browser.

Analysis of these techniques revealed that while they are extremely hard to exploit, even by an app running locally on a Mac or iOS device, they can be potentially exploited in JavaScript running in a web browser.

Current updates to macOS and iOS protect against Meltdown, and Apple is working on providing better protections against Spectre.

Read Apple's full support article here.

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