By now, you’ve probably heard the names. Meltdown and Spectre, simplified, are exploits in modern Intel processors that leave machines vulnerable to hackers. Meltdown is mainly a threat to computers, while Spectre can also be used to gain access to mobile devices.
None of this is meant to scare end-users. It’s a fact of modern, connected life that our systems are under constant attack. Being informed and not taking risks with your data are a very good start to cyber security.
In regards to Chatham, our Systems and Networks team has been hard at work applying patches as they’re released by Microsoft, Sophos and others. Devices running Windows 10 are much less vulnerable to the threats, so if you can update from any previous versions, it’s best to do that as soon as possible. In fact, running updates whenever they come up is a key line of defense. Often, when your phone or similar devices asks you to update, those patches contain protection against the newest security threats.
One unfortunate drawback of these patches is a decrease in performance, up to 30% or more in some scenarios. As patches continue to roll out, we could see a dip in performance for virtual servers across the board. It remains to be seen just how much this will affect production here at Chatham, but we began working on the issue very early in the game.
As always, be vigilant to any changes in your personal account or your computer. Staying safe from ever-evolving threats requires both users and administrators to be on guard.
For more information on the flaws: Mashable article on Meltdown/Spectre