Big news in the tech world. Two security flaws, named 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' have been exposed, leaving millions of computers and smartphones vulnerable to hacks.
The security flaws work like this, explains Ashley Uwin from Reality Bytes. Computer operating systems are broken out into layers, with the most important layer being at the base. This is called the kernel, and it is what controls everything the computer does. Usually, the kernel jumps around randomly to stay hidden and safe from attacks. 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' allow would-be hackers to find this kernel and use it to control programs on your computer or smartphone.
However, said Uwin, there's only the possibility of a threat at the moment.
"Nothing to be worried about right now," he explained. "There have been no documented exploits of these flaws. But, the consequences of that exploit being available are fairly serious. What these vulnerabilities are allowing people to do is use programs within the operating system, like in Windows of Apple iOS. You can do anything you want completely in the background without ever being seen."
Google, Microsoft and Apple have all issued, or plan to issue, updates to close this security flaw.
"Run the updates in your devices," Uwin advised. "Now, there is an unfortunate downside to this. The only way to fix this loophole will slow down devices from five to 30 per cent, because they have to completely rework basically how the operating system talks to the kernel, which is a huge thing."
In closing, Uwin said that the entire situation is a "really ugly scenario" for Intel, a computer chip manufacturer.
"All these vendors are in a huge frenzy to push these patches out. The fact that they're reacting so quickly is a very clear indicator of how serious these exploits -- if used -- are."
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