"In fact, the safety checks of said best practices actually increase the attack surface and may make applications more susceptible to Spectre".
Microsoft and others in the industry were notified of the issue several months ago under a nondisclosure agreement, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, noted earlier this week in an online post. However it is supplying driver updates to "mitigate the CPU security issue". Windows 7 and 8 are installed on 51% of computers, according to NetMarketShare.
Internet and networking equipment maker Cisco Systems said in a security advisory that it has identified 18 vulnerable products, including some of its blade servers, rack servers and routers, and expects to have patches for servers in about five weeks.
Chipmakers and operating system vendors have been pushing out patches to fix the flaws, but the software updates have also raised a host of new concerns. "After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown".
Still, there have been problems in some cases, Nunnikhoven said, noting that Microsoft and AMD have been pointing fingers at one another following reports of computers slowing down or in some cases not booting.
The software patch required to fix Meltdown can slow computer processors down by as much as 30 percent, said Alton Kizziah, vice president of global managed services at Kudelski Security.
In what started out with Intel being at the middle of the biggest security hole found in consumer CPUs ever, Meltdown and Spectre are now causing a world of hurt for AMD, which had previously said there was a "near zero risk to AMD processors at this time". Unfortunately there have been reports on some AMD Windows PCs "bricking", especially with patches for older AMD processors (AMD Opteron, Athlon and AMD Turion X2 Ultra families).
David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey.
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