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  • Meltdown and Spectre from a Windows user’s point of view

    Posted on January 4th, 2018 at 08:59 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I continue to recommend that you keep your PC locked down. There’s no compelling reason to apply yesterday’s myriad Windows patches right now. You’ll have to apply them eventually, but a certain degree of caution and skepticism is in order.

    Besides, you aren’t completely patched until all of the other pieces — firmware, antivirus, browser — are in place, and none of those are ready.

    Computerworld Woody on Windows.

    UPDATE: Here’s one that scares me. A handful of researchers just published a method for using JavaScript to surreptitiously read data, via a browser:

    In addition to violating process isolation boundaries using native code, Spectre attacks can also be used to violate browser sandboxing, by mounting them via portable JavaScript code. We wrote a JavaScript program that successfully reads data from the address space of the browser process running it.

    Note, in particular, that there are no fixes yet for Spectre — and there’s lots of speculation that such fixes may be a long, long way off.

    UPDATE: A very insightful post from Alasdair Allan

    UPDATE: Intel issued a press release that says, in part:

    Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years.

    What of processors that are more than five years old? Intel doesn’t say. But I was very surprised to discover, in the list of affected processors, references to:

    • Intel Atom® Processor C Series
    • Intel Atom® Processor E Series
    • Intel Atom® Processor A Series
    • Intel Atom® Processor x3 Series
    • Intel Atom® Processor Z Series
    • Intel® Celeron® Processor J Series
    • Intel® Celeron® Processor N Series
    • Intel® Pentium® Processor J Series
    • Intel® Pentium® Processor N Series

    I thought all of those were immune. Looks like they aren’t.