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New Computer Vulnerabilities Affect Almost All Computers

News was released in the past couple of days about two computer vulnerabilities that affects just about all computers (including tablets and smartphones) made in the past twenty years. Yes, you read that correctly!

One security website says, “Both of these vulnerabilities are hardware level vulnerabilities that exist because of a flaw in CPU architecture. They are very serious vulnerabilities because they are operating system and software independent. The long term fix for both of these issues will require that CPU makers change the way their chips work, which means redesigning and releasing new chips.” (see the link at the end of this post for more information about the Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities.

Malicious hackers could use the vulnerability to access private information inside your computer. The vulnerability can be exploited if you simply visit an infected website that downloads a malicious file to your computer.

CPU chip manufacturers (Intel, ARM, etc) are working diligently to close this major security flaw. AMD, an Intel competitor claims their CPUs are not affected.

So what should you do?

Most of these recommendations are good “best practices” you should already be doing.

  • First of all, make sure that your computer Operating System (Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, etc.) is up-to-date. You may have to manually install an update because some antivirus software may not allow the automatic update to download and install.
  • Make sure that your antivirus and security software is up-to-date.
  • Make sure that your internet browser software (Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc.
  • Discontinue Internet Explorer if you are still using it for accessing the Internet. Instead, use one of these other browsers because Microsoft has discontinued support for IE.
  • Make sure that you have good backups of important files (documents, financial information, passwords, pictures, etc.).
  • Update any hardware firmware updates that your computer manufacturer releases.
  • Be extra vigilent and cautious about clicking links in your email. Before clicking on a link in an email, even if it appears to come from a friend or financial institution, hover your mouse over the sender’s email address and make sure that the link is the same as the actual sender’s email address. Also, hover over the link and look at the bottom of your screen on the status bar to see where the link is pointing. Or just pick up the phone and verify that it is a valid link.

Again, these are very serious vulnerabilities and affect almost all computers made in the past twenty years. Don’t panic, but be careful.

For more information:

https://www.defiant.com/meltdown-spectre-impact
https://www.cnet.com/news/spectre-meltdown-intel-arm-amd-processor-cpu-chip-flaw-vulnerability-faq/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-protect-your-pc-against-the-intel-chip-flaw/