Protecting Your Systems Against Meltdown and Spectre
There are some security threats you don’t need to worry about. They apply to different products, different versions, or different operating systems. But there’s no avoiding the two latest threats, Meltdown and Spectre. Those threats come from the very design of the chips that are in almost every computer, phone, and other electronic device in use today. Here’s what you need to know about the problem and what you should do to address it.
What are Meltdown and Spectre?
Meltdown and Spectre are the names given to bugs impacting Intel and ARM processors. Both take advantage of flaws that enable them to access arbitrary memory locations. These defects can potentially let malware read memory allocated to other programs and steal any sensitive information there.
Can the bad chips be replaced?
Although the problems are hardware-based, there is currently no replacement hardware.
If I can’t replace the chips with the defect, what can I do?
There are operating system and application patches that mitigate the threats. OS patches exist for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. However, it’s important to note that patches are not available for old versions of these operating systems that are no longer supported by their vendors.
Do these issues affect my clouds?
Cloud providers’ systems that use the affected CPUs will be at risk unless they apply the necessary patches. Because clouds run multiple customers’ virtual machines on the same physical server, there is the risk that another user could see memory used by your hypervisor. However, because cloud providers are generally better at keeping their systems up to date with security patches than most enterprises, that risk is also mitigated. The major cloud providers have all applied the necessary patches.
Can antivirus block malware that uses these exploits?
Antivirus software may not be able to block these exploits. In fact, some antivirus software is incompatible with the fix on Windows. Unless those vendors modify their implementation and register compatibility with Microsoft, their users may not receive future security updates.
Is there more bad news?
Applying the patches to mitigate the risks comes at a cost: performance may be impacted. Also, Spectre can get into your network through your web browser. As a result, browser vendors are building security patches to reduce that risk.
So, bottom line, what should I do?
Ensure that you apply the relevant patches to your systems. Make sure you have an effective process for applying all patches across your data center without delay. This will help protect you against future threats as well as Meltdown and Spectre. Because it’s not possible to deploy patches everywhere instantaneously, also make sure you have strong monitoring in place, using tools like intrusion detection and data loss prevention software. Work with a team of security experts like Prescient Solutions, who can make sure you have an effective strategy and are up to date with all the latest security solutions.
Contact Prescient Solutions to learn more about coping with Meltdown, Spectre, and all the other cybersecurity risks your network must guard against.