Meltdown and Spectre are two words that we should prepare to hear more about over the coming weeks. Meltdown affects desktop computers, laptops and even the computers that power the internet, that have Intel chips. Spectre has an even wider reach as it can impact the chips in smart-phones and tablets running on chips made by ARM, AMD and Intel.
In total, there are billions of computers and phones that could be impacted by this vulnerability, so we need to be vigilant. While there have been no reported data thefts yet, this threat is different and perhaps more serious than the usual virus or malware attacks that were prevalent last year.
Computer chips pass your data around internal memory as they work and these hacks mean that potentially, passwords, personal data and credit card data entered online could be stolen. We believe the industry knew about these vulnerabilities last year but kept the story under wraps while the chip-makers worked on fixes.
Apple will be issuing an update to their popular browser Safari over the coming days. Microsoft have also released a number of updates to help protect their Surface tablets from the bugs. To protect yourself whether a smartphone or laptop user, you should make sure that automatic updates are turned on. To be extra sure, go to your device’s settings and look for new updates over the coming days and install manually if need be. While there’s no need to panic, being digitally-safe is preferable to being sorry.