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Money News

Tech Companies Scramble to Patch Spectre and Meltdown

January 05, 2018

  • Two new security threats could affect your desktop, laptop, or handheld device
  • The threats involve computer chips, also known as microchips or CPUs
  • Major tech companies rushed to release software fixes for the chip flaw
1 min read

Spectre and Meltdown may sound like comic book villains, but they’re causing evil headaches for top technology companies.

On Wednesday, security researchers revealed two previously little-known security defects affecting microprocessor chips. Microchips, also referred to as central processing units (CPUs), act as the brains of your electronic devices (your computer, smartphone, or tablet).

It’s possible billions of devices worldwide could be affected, and are therefore vulnerable to hackers.

While tech companies including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google rushed to issue software patches, the security holes could still leave personal information up for grabs for devices lacking the software updates.

Apple urged its customers to download software only from trusted sources.

Spectre and Meltdown: More details

Spectre and Meltdown take advantage of a CPU process called “speculative execution”, which generally allows chips to process information more quickly by pulling it out of memory before it’s required.

Apple feels the bite

The chip flaws have put Apple in the spotlight.

Apple urged its customers to download software only from trusted sources. It said it began releasing software updates that could mitigate Meltdown threats in its most recent operating system versions for desktops, TVs, and mobile devices.

Other things to keep in mind: Software patches that fix the security holes could slow down some computers, some by as much as 30%, according to Bloomberg. Most of the software fixes so far have been aimed at Meltdown, according to Forbes.

*Intel’s stock price closed at $46.83 on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. By mid-day Friday, January 5, 2018 its shares traded at $44.95, according to Google Finance.

By Jeremy Quittner
Jeremy Quittner is the financial writer for Stash.

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