Science

IOS and macOS updates available now address Spectre vulnerabilities

IOS and macOS updates available now address Spectre vulnerabilities

Meltdown and Spectre are two vulnerabilities that affect nearly all modern processors. Tech companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and others, scrambled to issue patches to prevent hackers from taking advantage of the vulnerabilities.

iPhone and iPad users are urged to update their software immediately via the device's General Settings section.

iOS 11.2.2 for iPhone and iPad contains security fixes that aren't fully fleshed out, but Apple does say that they affect Safari and Webkit to "mitigate the effects of Spectre". Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store. Meltdown-specific patches have already released for iOS (11.2), macOS (10.13.2), and tvOS (11.2).

Companies are in disagreement over the precise impact of the workarounds required to protect systems from the Meltdown and Spectre speculative execution flaws revealed earlier this month, with some pointing to a doubling of CPU time in their workloads while others claim to have seen 'negligible impact'.

"In the coming days we plan to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre", said Apple on Friday. The Safari update also addresses Spectre risks.

There is no evidence these flaws have been exploited.

It's the second round of such updates from Apple, which confirmed on Thursday that all devices running iOS and macOS were affected. But it's unclear how easy it would be to do so.

Microsoft has also issued an update for Windows users - KB4056892 - although some users are reporting problems after installing it on AMD-powered PCs.

The good news is users who keep their web browsers, apps and devices up-to-date should be protected from anyone trying to exploit these vulnerabilities.


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