How Meltdown and Spectre Make Your Computer Vulnerable | Summary and Q&A

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January 12, 2018
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How Meltdown and Spectre Make Your Computer Vulnerable

TL;DR

Spectre and Meltdown are security flaws in CPUs that allow unauthorized access to sensitive information, affecting computers, smartphones, and tablets.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are Spectre and Meltdown?

Spectre and Meltdown are security flaws in CPUs that allow unauthorized access to sensitive data by exploiting speculative execution and branch prediction.

Q: Which CPUs are vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre?

Meltdown affects almost every Intel processor since 1995, as well as some processors from Qualcomm and ARM. Spectre affects processors made by Intel, Qualcomm, ARM, and AMD.

Q: How can Meltdown be mitigated?

Meltdown can be guarded against with software updates, called patches, that restrict memory-sharing between programs and the operating system.

Q: What can be done to address Spectre?

Spectre is more difficult to fix and may require hardware upgrades. In the meantime, software patches are being released by tech companies to minimize the security risks.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Spectre and Meltdown are security flaws in CPUs that can be exploited to access sensitive data.

  • CPUs use speculative execution and branch prediction to improve performance.

  • Meltdown allows programs to access more memory than they should, while Spectre allows programs to peek into the memory of other programs.

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