Microsoft Delivers Emergency Windows 10 Patch for 'Meltdown' CPU Bug

Intel says rapidly issuing updates to all processors impacted by Meltdown

KAISER prevents the computer processes of user applications from managing to get at kernel memory spaces-which might, for instance, give someone access to your login information or a cryptographic key you'd like to keep safe. From the physical premises to the purpose-built servers, networking equipment, and custom security chips to the low-level software stack running on every machine, our entire hardware infrastructure is Google-controlled, -secured, -built and -hardened.

In a support article, Microsoft offers the reassurance that it is unaware of any instance of the chip vulnerabilities being used to attack customers.

The tech world went into hysterics this week as nearly all computer-owning consumers were "most certainly" impacted by the bug, according to Google contributors and third-party researchers.

The general consensus is months, and that the tech industry was working on a coordinated plan to disclose the bugs and resolve the problems (if they can be resolved).

Because of this distinction, Williams said during a SANS webcast that the primary use of Meltdown appeared to be for privilege escalation and container/virtualization hypervisor escape, while Spectre would primarily be exploited through JavaScript execution in the browser. ARM Holdings said it's working with Intel, AMD and operating system vendors to address the problem.

Google's Project Zero team said Wednesday that the flaw could allow bad actors to gather passwords and other sensitive data from a system's memory.

According to an investor presentation shared online by Intel, the exploits can allow an attacker to read content of "privileged memory, circumventing expected privilege levels". On a website devoted to the attack they say: "Meltdown breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system". But he said the company later threatened to bring a lawsuit against him under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

The Spectre flaw contains two different exploitation techniques called CVE-2017-5753 or "bounds check bypass", and CVE-2017-5715 or "branch target injection", according to Apple.

Legal experts believe that more lawsuits over the vulnerabilities will follow.

How big is the risk?

However, rising speculation about the severity of the issue - including potential performance impacts on servers and public cloud environments - forced it to go public sooner.

The biggest names in the sector, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, are now rushing out updates and patches to eliminate the flaw. One possible exploit could be resolved with software and operating system updates with "negligible performance impact", AMD said, while the other two don't affect AMD chips because of differences in its architecture.

Spectre was unearthed by Horn and Paul Kocher, Daniel Genkin from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Maryland, Mike Hamburg of Rambus, Moritz Lipp of Graz University of Technology, and Yuval Yarom of University of Adelaide and Data61. The vast majority of the world's smartphones and tablets run on chips based on Arm technology.

So far, no breaches have been reported but the fear is that privately stored data in computers and networks could potentially be hacked. The full list and some technical details are here.

At the moment, there have been no reported uses of Meltdown or Spectre in the wild. Edge updates are rolled into the Microsoft security patch released on Wednesday, while Firefox users can click on About Firefox in the Help menu to see their update status.

"We quickly realized this applies to most modern microprocessors that are high performance and utilize speculative techniques to gain the performance advantage", Smith said.

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