New Vulnerabilities Impacting Your Business and What Precautions to Take: Meltdown and Spectre

by Lidia Kovacevic

Does your company use devices with a processor such as personal computers, smartphones, or cloud servers? If so, you are likely impacted by the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

While they sound like 50’s era James Bond villains, the reality is much more insidious. Both Meltdown and Spectre exploit vulnerabilities/code errors, are found on Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and ARM processors/hardware, which hackers could leverage to access your data directly.

What are Meltdown and Spectre?

They are both vulnerabilities within the processors’ code, which means they were not created by hackers but can be exploited by hackers to steal your data. Specifically, Meltdown could allow a malicious program to access the core memory of the device while Spectre allows attackers to trick a typical application into releasing its information, which it normally cannot do.

How Can Meltdown and Spectre Impact My Business?

Meltdown and Spectre can provide access to any memory content on your computer that could then be exploited by hackers. This includes images, passwords, or any other sensitive data that is stored. As all computers, smart phones, and cloud servers are affected, this includes devices used for business. If your business handles sensitive data, whether it be yours or your customers’, you will want to update, or patch, all of your and your employees’ devices to minimize the risk of a data breach.

A data breach or hack will directly affect your relationship with your customers and the ability of your business to complete its daily functions. Most of the breaches reported in the news come with huge backlash against the companies responsible along with potential loss of business and lawsuits.

What Can I Do to Protect My Business from Meltdown and Spectre?

It is very difficult to determine if your data was accessed, but there are certain patches that can help you protect your data and devices. Most of these patches will be sent out through the company that created your software, which means if you see an Apple OS update or a Microsoft update, you should install them.

For now, the best thing to do if you work with any kind of sensitive data, or just are cautious about your own, is to ensure your system is updated. Professionals are continuing to work on solutions that will protect your devices from Meltdown and Spectre so it is important to monitor the situation for updates.

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