Following on from the reported data vulnerability due to microchips provided by Intel – we wanted to give you some more information about protecting your computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
How do I protect my computer?
Device makers and operating system providers have had time to try to fix this. They are pushing out security updates, or patches, which will protect your computer, tablet or phone against a breach that uses the Meltdown vulnerability. Users should install these updates as soon as they are made available.
Microsoft, Apple and Linux, the three major operating system makers, are all issuing patches.
Apple has not said precisely when patches for earlier versions of macOS will be available, but the latest version, numbered 10.13.2, is safe.
Microsoft released an emergency Meltdown patch for Windows 10 on 4 January, it will subsequently be applied to Windows 7 and 8 machines.
Google said Android phones with the most recent security updates are protected, and users of web services like Gmail are also safe. Chromebook users on older versions will need to install an update when it comes. Chrome web browser users are expected to receive a patch on 23 January.
Security updates are also in the works for Apple laptops and desktops, though it is not clear whether iPhones and iPads are vulnerable.
Cloud services for businesses, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, say they have already patched most services, and will fix the rest soon.
Spectre is thought to be much harder to patch and no fix for it has yet been made widely available.
Will the fix slow down my computer?
Some researchers have claimed that any fixes could slow down computer systems, possibly by 30%, but Intel believes these claims are exaggerated. It said any performance impacts were “workload-dependent” and the impact for average computer users “should not be significant”.
IDC’s Mr Ma agreed that for most regular users – who rely on their computer for web browsing and email – the security fixes were unlikely to slow their computer.