All Macs, iOS devices affected by chip security flaws - Apple warns

Nettie James
January 5, 2018

'Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown.

Meltdown and Spectre are what are known as exploits, vulnerabilities or weaknesses, even though they are being reported widely as bugs or flaws on central processing units (CPUs), the computer chips at the heart of every PC or smartphone. "Analysis of these techniques revealed that while they are extremely hard to exploit, even by an app running locally on a Mac or iOS device, they can be potentially exploited in JavaScript running in a web browser", Apple said.

Given kernel memory is dedicated to the core components and interactions of an operating system with its hardware, it is said that the flaw could be exploited by malicious programmes, namely Meltdown or Spectre, to expose secured information such as passwords, and effectively compromise a targeted machine or indeed server network.

The circumstances that could lead to using the Spectre vulnerability might be a bit more hard to achieve but can still be done using Javascript running on a web browser. Now Apple has also issued a statement on the same saying all Macs and iOS devices are impacted by this security flaw.

Apple said all Mac computers and iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads, are affected by chip security flaws unearthed this week, but the company stressed there are no known exploits impacting users.

"In the coming days we plan to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre", the iPhone maker explained. Apple also added that since it would take a malicious app to set off Meltdown or Spectre, it recommends that iOS and Mac users install apps from a trusted source only, such as the App Store.

But the Meltdown and Spectre flaws are found in all modern computer processing units - or microchips - made by Intel and ARM, and together the firms supply nearly the entire global computer market.

Macs and iOS devices are vulnerable to Spectre attacks through code that can run in web browsers.

Here's the issue: Modern processors are created to perform something called "speculative execution" to enhance performance.

And Microsoft has already released fixes for many of its services.

Shortly after the researchers disclosed the chip flaws on Wednesday, Google and Microsoft released statements telling users which of their products were affected.

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