November 22, 2019

Panic! commands. So everything I hear you say…well yes,

Panic! Everything’s broken…Hackers have your passwords,
files and can do what they want with you.

Act now!

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You may have seen a lot of click bate style headlines like
this recently following the news that exposed flaws in computer operating
systems which have underlying reliance on CPU architecture from manufacturers
like Intel and AMD.  These systems are
responsible for helping to protect critical and sensitive information like
passwords and encryption keys from leaking out to other programs for nefarious
people to help themselves to.

While this has only hit the main stream media in the last
couple of weeks, it has been on the radar of the security community for several
months, with serval software vendors working hard to determine mitigation
strategies.  

Okay, so now we have put the panic to one side for now,
let’s look at the worst-case scenario and explain how this underlying hardware
flaw can affect you!

**Please keep in mind the following is a non-technical
article that aims to give you a general overview of these current issues.   If you have any more questions then please
contact us directly.

So what’s happening here?

Vulnerability stretches across all platforms and people –
whether you’re a business or the owner of personal electronical device like a PC,
mac , phone , IOT  device or even a car!
Yes, a car will also require a form of a processor or “CPU” to run on the
device and interact with the software in order to process jobs and
commands.  

So everything I hear you say…well yes, everything. 

Researchers have found and proved that a malicious threat
actor, as they are known in the cyber game, can effectively run code on the
device that will compromise the CPU and make it reveal and hand over all your
system critical sensitive data.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that so far, no one has
publicly had these vulnerabilities used on them and disclosed. But that does
not mean it hasn’t already happened…

But typically speaking, when vulnerabilities are disclosed,
vendors would just software patch the problem – I’m sure everyone has done an
Adobe update or patch Windows.  And under
normal circumstances, this would plug the hole. 

But in the case of this new threat, as the architects
supplying us software to our devices had previously assumed that this was a
safe zone.

However, the fix is at such a low level of the computer
architecture that plugging the hole and patching means computers are
essentially having to bridge the technical gap and do more work! This means
slower systems to end users – in some bench mark tests, these have been up to
30% slower. 

Some home users and businesses have also found that a recent
Microsoft patch trying to mitigate this issue would crash and result in their
device blue screening as the antivirus program of choice was built in a way
that is not compatible. 

The ramifications of applying these fixes could mean that
the speed of setups is considerably degraded, and users must be made aware of
this to make informed decisions.

What’s possibly most worrying is despite the degrading of
performance the long-term impact on devices will be vast as there will be many
hardware and software vendors that will never look to fix this issue.  In short if your device is out of support and
controls sensitive and critical information then migrating to something new
should be on the forefront of plans.

The best and first thing you can do is seek the advice for
your IT support consultant or company around your particular devices and set to
check what and when patches can be applied.

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