Apple admits its products affected by global security flaw

05 January, 2018, 11:58 | Author: Devin Moran
  • Hardware fixes are by nature much slower and more difficult than software fixes. tcareob72/Thinkstock

APPLE HAS CONFIRMED that all Mac and iOS devices are affected by the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws, that experts say could allow hackers to access sensitive data.

The researchers said on their website that Intel paid a so-called "bug bounty" to them for disclosing the flaws to Intel but did not state a dollar amount.

Meltdown and Spectre are major security flaws that leaves the devices vulnerable to hacking. Meltdown lets hackers bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer's memory, potentially letting hackers read a computer's memory. He tells Sydell that the problem is found on millions of computers, as well as smartphones and cloud storage provided by companies such as Google, Amazon Web Services, Apple and Microsoft. It was first discovered by Project Zero in June past year.

Meltdown could have devastating effect for cloud providers as Google researchers were able to demonstrate reading of host memory from a KVM guest OS.

Microsoft said in a statement Thursday that it is not aware of any of these vulnerabilities being used against its customers.

The company has said that it will release a patch to protect its browser, Safari, against Spectre.

The vulnerabilities - which exist at a hardware level - put the onus on system creators such as Apple, Microsoft and Google to release patches at an operating system level to prevent hackers from exploiting the opportunity to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other vital details. Now Apple has also issued a statement on the same saying all Macs and iOS devices are impacted by this security flaw.


Consumers can mitigate the underlying vulnerability by making sure they patch up their operating systems with the latest software upgrades. "Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time".

These vulnerabilities do not result in instant hacks - they first require attackers to first compromise vulnerable devices by the usual methods such as tricking users into running malware or visiting malicious sites.

If your laptop/desktop/server vendor has provided extra chipset firmware updates, you can get them from their official sites, install them, and complete the patch.

It's something no one had realized was an issue for 20-some years.

Google said its Android phones - which make up more than 80% of the global market - were protected if users had the latest security updates.

The Register originally reported the story of the "Kernel memory" leaks and design flaws in Intel processors. There is no evidence malicious hackers have exploited the chip flaws, though researchers said it would be hard for investigators to know for sure. "Exploits for these bugs will be added to hacker's standard toolkits", said Guido.

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