What You Need to Know About the Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws
The computer industry is racing to deal with several new vulnerabilities that affect the majority of processors in modern computers and mobile devices. The flaws enable new attacks that break the critical memory defenses in operating systems and bypass fundamental isolation layers, including those vital to virtualization and container technologies.
The most serious of the flaws, dubbed Meltdown or CVE-2017-5754, allows applications running in userspace to extract information from the kernel’s memory, which can contain sensitive data like passwords, encryption keys and other secrets. The good news is that Meltdown can be largely mitigated through software patches, unlike two other vulnerabilities known collectively as Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) that will require CPU microcode updates and will likely haunt the industry for some time to come.
Both Meltdown and Spectre stem from a performance-related feature of modern CPUs called speculative execution.
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