Intel’s chips to be ‘immune’ to Meltdown and Spectre after latest security updates

Intel claims to have already nipped this whole Meltdown and Spectre security hole problem in the bud, according to its latest press release on the matter. Within, Intel states that its next batch of security updates to its processors will grant them immunity to the exploits.

“Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems — including personal computers and servers — that render those systems immune from both exploits (referred to as “Spectre” and “Meltdown”) reported by Google Project Zero.”

The release goes on to tout the ‘great progress’ Intel has made in just days since news of these security flaws was broken by Google Project Zero, a team of security analysts employed by Google tasked with finding zero-day vulnerabilities. By Intel’s measure, more than 90% of devices running on Intel hardware will be immune to the flaws by the end of next week.

Of course, this news comes after Intel has already released updates directly to its processors to combat these security holes. (Which it still says hasn't tangibly affected performance for the majority of its audience.) This statement from Intel is aimed to double down on reassuring users that the problem is well on the way to being fixed.

Indeed, as Microsoft and Google have already released fixes for preventing hackers from exploiting these flaws on devices running their software. Apple, on the other hand, has been predictably mum on how it’s dealing with the matter.

About this whole ‘immunity’ thing

Intel’s use of the word ‘immunity’ here should give pause, but not out of doubt in Intel’s engineers. Rather, because key members of Google’s Project Zero and data company Rambus told The New York Times that, at least in Spectre’s case, this flaw is at such a level that it cannot be fixed by any old security patch. This is a hole baked into the very chips’ design.

So, how then can Intel claim to grant its chips immunity to this hole? That’s currently uncertain, but we’ve contacted Intel for comment and will update this story should we receive a response.

Regardless, it would be wise to download these updates as soon as they come through the update tool within your OS of choice, as this appears to be how Intel is getting these fixes to us. To do that, check out our constantly-updated guide for how to protect yourself against Meltdown and Spectre.

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