Sci-tech

Microsoft releases updates to protect Surface devices against Meltdown and Spectre

Microsoft releases updates to protect Surface devices against Meltdown and Spectreā€¯

These issues notably affect the Intel chips that power the overwhelming majority of cloud servers now running, but other processors - including some designed by AMD and Arm - seem to be affected. As such, the company is now working on setting the registry in its products. Microsoft and antivirus vendors have published instructions on how to do it, but modifying the Windows Registry incorrectly can cause serious problems, so proceed with caution.

Symantec is also in this second group but some customers have reported that the Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) tray icon is reporting "multiple problems" after applying Microsoft's update and Symantec's updated Erasure engine.

The list of compatible AV products is available here and is continuing to be updated by cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont. The firmware updates for Surface prevent systems from being attacked. Some software patches can protect against Spectre-based exploits but there is no true protection from it as it is basically based on the fundamental weaknesses in current hardware. "This includes microcode from device OEMs and in some cases updates to AV software as well", the company said. But, of course, it's up to hardware manufacturers to release firmware updates through their own channels, so Microsoft has detailed the updates it's releasing for Surface devices.

Also, in order to receive today's updates, you'll need to be running the Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703) or higher.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that the updates are currently rolling out now, and they can be downloaded by either checking with the device's internal update system or by visiting the Microsoft Download Center. This addresses one of two Spectre attacks known as "branch target injection".

Most Intel processors and some ARM chips are confirmed to be vulnerable, putting billions of devices at risk of attacks.

CPUs can leak data when unwinding unused speculative execution paths.



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