Spectre, Meltdown, and your devices

Spectre, Meltdown, and your devices

The big news in technology right now is a newly discovered security vulnerability that exploits flaws in the microprocessor (“brain”) of most computers in use today.

What makes the ‘Spectre’ and ‘Meltdown’ vulnerabilities particularly difficult is that solutions require a coordinated effort by all hardware manufacturers, operating system developers, and many third-party software developers to solve the issues.

But stay calm! The chances of this affecting your individual computer or phone is low. (The bigger threat is to servers and cloud-based services.) And, rest assured, NFT is closely monitoring this issue and swiftly applying any updates available to better protect client computers.

If you want more nitty gritty details, here are three articles that provide information about what these security flaws mean.

A general overview:  https://www.wired.com/story/meltdown-and-spectre-vulnerability-fix/

A more technical article with a good overview of each affected company:

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/01/meltdown-and-spectre-heres-what-intel-apple-microsoft-others-are-doing-about-it/

And an article specific to Android/Chrome, but with a friendly description of the problem:

https://www.androidcentral.com/meltdown-spectre

If you’re interested in knowing more about the steps we’re taking to manage this complicated issue, continue reading below. And feel free to send an email to our Help Desk if you have questions or concerns.

Finally, for now, this quote from the ARS Technica article sums things up fairly well:

“Longer term, it seems likely that Meltdown will recede into the distance—an annoyance, perhaps, but fully patched and protected against—but the rather more subtle Spectre is going to be with us for a while.”

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Below is a list of affected companies we interface with on behalf of our clients. Because of the complexity of this problem, the remedies for this issue will be ongoing. So, as of today:

Microsoft and Apple
Microsoft released patches for all supported versions of Windows (7, 8.1 & 10) and Apple released updates for iOS and macOS. NFT will apply these updates to all computers we manage and additional patches will be applied as they become available.

Webroot (anti-virus, endpoint security)
Webroot is compatible with the Microsoft update and will include an additional update later this week. We’re still waiting on the official word about Webroot for Apple.

Office 365 and Azure
Microsoft has updated all cloud services.

Sonicwall
Sonicwall firewalls are not affected by this security vulnerability.

Android
Google’s Pixel phones get updates automatically but owners may need to restart the phone. For other Android devices, go to “Settings,” then “System” and check “System Update.”

iPhone and iPad
Apple says that, as of last Friday, available updates for iOS, macOS and tvOS mitigate Meltdown. For Spectre, expect an update “in the coming days” for Safari on macOS and iOS. Apple Watch OS isn’t affected.

Web browsers
Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Edge, and Chrome all have plans to add new security features and, in some cases, turn off features that make your computer more vulnerable to attack.

Finally, it’s important to watch for update notifications and requests to reboot your computer – which is often what activates the update. And, as always, if you have any doubt about the legitimacy of an update request, please forward it to our Help Desk and we’ll evaluate it for you.

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