News + Features
Intel’s problems with the Meltdown and Spectre CPU security vulnerabilities continue to mount up. Last we’d heard, Intel had been hit by a grand total of four class action lawsuits. That now looks minor compared to its current troubles. “As of February 15, 2018, 30 customer class action lawsuits and two securities class action lawsuits have been filed,” Intel has announced.
Intel has announced it will be releasing its first Meltdown and Spectre-proof CPUs later this year, presumably with the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ bassline thrumming in its ears. Security will be the big priority for Intel’s next generation of processors, with CEO Brian Krzanich admitting software patches aren’t going to be enough to ensure total Meltdown and Spectre protection.
Intel has changed its stance on the first wave of fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown CPU exploits, recommending that users don’t automatically update through Windows Update. It’s down to widely reported issues of random reboots as of a result of the fix, so if you don’t want to suffer unexpected shutdowns then give the latest Windows security updates a wide berth.
Microsoft has issued a pair of updates that fix the already broken Meltdown and Spectre patches that caused a number of older AMD processors to Blue Screen. Well, sort of. The KB 4073578 and KB 4073576 updates are available for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users respectively, and there’s no mention of a Windows 10 update whatsoever. All the info we have is that these "Unbootable state for AMD devices".
We heard earlier this week about a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of investors against AMD, but it turns out this was just the tip of the iceberg. The controversy surrounding AMD and Intel CPUs, and the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, has picked up serious steam. And where there’s controversy, you can be sure lawyers will smell blood in the water.
Getting your head around Meltdown and Spectre protection is a tricky process. If you’ve been led to believe that a simple Windows update was all that was needed, think again. Fortunately, a man by the name of Steve Gibson has done everyone a huge favour and released his freeware InSpectre Meltdown and Spectre Check utility.
An investor’s rights firm has filed a class action lawsuit against AMD, alleging that AMD supplied false statements in regards to its vulnerability to the Meltdown and Spectre CPU security flaws. The lawsuit aims to recover damages for AMD investors “under the federal securities laws.”
The ramifications of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are many and far-reaching. Crucially though, these are flaws at a hardware level that can be fixed with future processors. The downside, of course, is that this will come at great additional expense; you’ll have to splash the cash on a new CPU and motherboard combo. For peace of mind though, some people will accept any price.
Pinning just how and what the Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities can affect is an endlessly tricky process. After it originally emerged as an Intel-specific CPU flaw, the likes of AMD, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Mozilla, and Nvidia all hurriedly issued patches in order to mitigate the flaw.
Microsoft has detailed the performance impact of the first rollout of Meltdown and Spectre fixes. Without the security patch applied, malicious software can exploit the vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive data by accessing one process from another. It affects just about every process and you should take steps to install fixes for your OS, processor, web browsers, and even your graphics card drivers.
Under-the-radar indie gem Nex Machina is the latest to run into server problems as a result of the Meltdown vulnerability. Having patched their backend servers over the weekend, the team at Housemarque noticed CPU Utilization shot up by as much as 500%. This led to an increased number of reports from players noticing the lack of leaderboards, player customisation options and the availability of online play.

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