It didn’t take long to spread around the Internet’s technical communities as we welcomed in 2018 – security flaws had been discovered in the computer processing chips used by most of the major manufacturers. From smartphones and tablets to corporate super computers, this ‘vulnerability’ can be found on systems from hundreds of different manufacturers, whether they ran software from Apple, Google, Microsoft, or anything else.
So what are Meltdown & Spectre?
Without getting too technical, they are vulnerabilities that mean your computer software could read information from other parts of your computer system, that it shouldn’t have access to. It’s not as simple as reading a file, but say an advertising window in your browser could read your WiFi password. Or the email login details on a different computer. And you had no idea it had happened. Yup. Bad.
What’s this got to do with my IT support?
The fixes for these security flaws are widespread and complicated. There have been reports of some updates slowing down computer performance dramatically. Although some updates are being handled by the company that makes the device’s operating system software (e.g. Microsoft, Apple or Google), it may not be as simple as just having Automatic Updates turned on.
In fact, Microsoft had to pull some security updates because some AMD processors didn’t function the way they were documented, and the update left some older Windows machines totally unable to start.
In this era of Cloud computing, it’s easy to think that you don’t need an “IT guy” anymore. Meltdown & Spectre remind us that there’s a ton of tech sitting on our desk (or in our hand) that lets us access the Cloud. It should be looked after properly if we want our businesses to run efficiently and securely. And the people we trust to do it should know about the latest security threats and their impact.
What do I need to do now?
If you have a support contract for IT management, then your IT company should already be on to updating your systems for you. Give them a call and ask what they’re doing about this Meltdown & Spectre stuff. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, fire them and find a new company. Seriously.
If you don’t have a support contract or a trusted IT services company, then the gamble is yours. Either take your eyes off your business for a few days to confirm that all of your systems have applied the correct updates successfully, or find an IT company that can do that for you. Or do nothing at all – your choice, your business.