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Intel today announced that the firmware updates and software patches that are being released for its CPUs render Intel-based computer systems "immune" to both the Spectre and Meltdown exploits that were widely publicized this week.
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. Intel and its partners have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates.
Intel says updates have been issued for the majority of Intel processor products introduced within the past five years, and by the end of next week, more than 90 percent of processor products from the last five years will be patched.

For Mac users, Apple has already addressed some of the vulnerabilities in the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update, and further updates will come in macOS High Sierra 10.13.3. To make sure you're protected as a Mac user, install all of the latest operating system updates and firmware patches. As always, it's also worth avoiding suspicious programs, websites, and links.

Intel today also reiterated that the updates that are being released for Mac, PC, and Linux machines should not significantly impact day to day usage and should, for the most part, be unnoticeable. That seems to be true of the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update, as there have been no reports of slowdowns from Mac users.
Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.
While hints of an Intel CPU design flaw and security vulnerability surfaced on Tuesday, it wasn't until Wednesday that full details were shared on the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, which take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU.

Meltdown impacts Intel CPUs, allowing a malicious program to access data from the memory of running apps, providing passwords, emails, documents, photos, and more. Meltdown can be exploited to read the entire physical memory of a target machine, and it can be done through something as simple as a website. The vulnerability is particularly problematic for cloud-based services.

Spectre, which breaks the isolation between different applications, is a wider hardware-based problem impacting all modern Intel, ARM, and AMD processors. Spectre is harder to exploit than Meltdown, but it is also harder to mitigate.

While patches are going out that appear to prevent the current known Meltdown and Spectre exploits, these speculative execution vulnerabilities will continue to be a problem for years to come, according to security researchers. Similar vulnerabilities will surface, and while performance impacts from software-based workarounds are minor, they're still present.

Paul Kocher, one of the security researchers who helped discover the flaws, told The New York Times that this will be a "festering problem over hardware life cycles." "It's not going to change tomorrow or the day after," he said. "It's going to take awhile."

Article Link: Intel Says New Software Updates Make Computers 'Immune' to Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities
 

alex00100

macrumors 6502
Mar 17, 2011
438
1,161
Moscow, Russia
I’m really curious to see some benchmarks of before and after. Gladly with this amount of people with too much free time on websites such as this I can be confident there will be plenty soon.
 
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polbit

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2002
523
647
South Carolina
Do we actually have an official statement from Apple regarding this, or is all the "MacOS has addressed this" based on a developer statement?
 

JRobinsonJr

macrumors 6502a
Aug 20, 2015
665
1,184
Arlington, Texas
With cu processor complexity this type of thing is inevitable. Nothing will every be immune from these vulnerabilities.

That said, it is also exactly why everything - hardware, software and everything in between - should occasionally go 'back to the drawing board' for a sanity check.
 

unashamedgeek

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
164
171
Getting blown into a much bigger deal than it is.
I think that is going to depend on your definition of a "big deal". I know this is going to be a big deal in my world of pen testing for some time to come as exploits get released. Being able to jump from ring 3 to ring 0 is the main goal once gaining a foothold on a system. Additionally, Mozilla has stated they have proven that a browser can be used to exploit these so if XSS can be used to pull memory contents, I'm going to have some fun engagements coming up.

EDIT: I forgot to even discuss the potential issues with host and guest systems. Popping a guest OS and being able to access memory on the host, now we're really talking full compromise.
 
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longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,897
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Falls Church, VA
Intel today also reiterated that the updates that are being released for Mac, PC, and Linux machines should not significantly impact day to day usage and should, for the most part, be unnoticeable.

However, if you are running any kind of significant workload that access the kernel frequently, such as frequent I/O requests used in database applications, then the impact is actually quite severe. People have seen their cloud services go to crap as the providers apply the patches.

I get that most day to day users may not care about this on their desktops, but step back and think about this a minute. You have a potentially 20-30% CPU performance hit on the cloud. That means that in order to achieve the same performance this week as they did last week, cloud computing providers will have to bump their capacity by potentially 20-30%. Along with that comes more power demands which renewable sources may or may not be able to meet...

Some of you are saying "this is getting blown out of proportions." I say the impacts of this are just starting to be felt.
 

Number 9

macrumors newbie
Mar 1, 2011
13
4
London
Intel says the fix “is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.” To me this says that people who rely on the performance of their machines and bought the best performance available are indeed going to take a performance hit and maybe even the 30% being bandied about. That is, for those involved, shocking! The bit about it being mitigated over time puts the solution on software developers to develop workarounds.
 
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crazy dave

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2010
1,239
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Wait for the Sierra update. Apple supposedly supports Sierra still...

So maybe El Capitan might be supported for the security update? I hope so.

If I'm reading the below link right ...


... then Sierra and El Cap should both already have the Meltdown fix along with High Sierra. But there may be other similar issues that those fixes were meant to address ... (though the descriptions are very close to Meltdown)

=======================

I'm intrigued that Intel is claiming that they have also made themselves immune to Spectre as well. I was under the impression from the initial reports that doing so wasn't truly possible in firmware/software. As pointed out by other users, Apple's current fixes appear to be only for Meltdown.
 
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leman

macrumors P6
Oct 14, 2008
16,475
13,956
Well, the spectre attack certainly works for me on the latest 10.13.3 beta...
 

MacTiki

macrumors regular
Nov 17, 2008
118
87
10.13.2 and the security updates for ElCap and Sierra released the same day had the same fixes.

Apple issues security updates for the current OS plus the two previous OSes.

Would really like to know if this is going to be addressed for 10.11.6.

The December update may or may not have “fixed” this issue.

Looking over the info regarding the update and noticed that several updates were left out of 10.11.6 update.

For example:

Kernel

Available for: macOS High Sierra 10.13.1

Impact: An application may be able to read restricted memory

Description: A validation issue was addressed with improved input sanitization.

CVE-2017-13865: Ian Beer of Google Project Zero


Kernel

Available for: macOS High Sierra 10.13.1

Impact: An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved memory handling.

CVE-2017-13876: Ian Beer of Google Project Zero
[doublepost=1515106723][/doublepost]

Possibly.
 

petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
497
I'm intrigued that Intel is claiming that they have also made themselves immune to Spectre as well ... I was under the impression from the initial reports that doing so wasn't truly possible in firmware/software ...

Seems like an attempt at damage control to me, coming from the same CEO who dumped all the stock he was legally allowed to sell off late last year.
 
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