The computer world is in a big shock after the new vulnerabilities labeled as Spectre and Meltdown were made known a few days ago. The vulnerabilities exist in the design of Intel, AMD and the ARM processors and allow a malicious program to read the memory of the other processes. This means that any malicious program can read the memory of your web browser and capture your passwords or other information without requiring special permissions.
The security researchers who worked to find these vulnerabilities have put together a special website https://meltdownattack.com/ to keep you informed about the latest updates about these attacks. You should bookmark this website and keep checking it every week for a couple of months. This website gives complete information about the vulnerabilities and has all the links that you would need to keep yourself protected.
At this moment, you can do the following to keep your computer protected :
- Keep operating system up-to-date. If you enabled automatic updates in your operating system, you should be automatically receiving all the updates. But if you have not turned on automatic updates, then you can manually install the updates for January 2018 or February 2018. This is true for all operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android and others.
- Install device driver and firmware updates. In the coming months, the OEM manufacturers like Lenovo, Sony, Samsung, HP etc., will be releasing updates to mitigate the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. You should download them and install them whenever they become available.
- Update the web browsers and other applications to latest versions. Mozilla has already released an update to Firefox web browser. Google is going release an update to Chrome web browser on 23rd January. These updates will patch these programs against the vulnerabilities. You should install these updates as soon as they become available.
- Install antivirus solution in your computer. Although even the heuristic scan used by antivirus software cannot detect if a program is using these Spectre or Meltdown, Intel security team suggests that you are better protected if you install an updated antivirus program in your computer.
You can find all the links to different processor manufacturers, OEM manufacturers, operating system websites etc. on the Meltdown Attack website at https://meltdownattack.com/.