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Default [AT] Understanding Meltdown & Spectre: What To Know About New Exploits That Affect Virtually All CPUs

Published: 01-04-2018 16:45

It seems only fitting that one of the two hardware based exploits to rock the CPU world this week was named Meltdown. Because for the last 24 hours or so, it feels like I’ve been on the verge of one just trying to keep up with all of the new information that has come out on this and the also aptly named Spectre exploit. Suffice it to say, it’s the kind of week we haven’t seen for a long time in the technology industry. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning.

Security researchers working for Google’s Project Zero group, along with other research groups and academic institutions, have discovered a series of far-ranging security risks involving speculative execution. Speculative execution is one of the cornerstones of high-performance execution on modern CPUs, and is found in essentially all CPU designs more performant than an embedded microcontroller. As a result, essentially every last high-performance CPU on the market or that has been produced in the last couple of decades is vulnerable to one or more of a few different exploit scenarios.



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