Computers are a crucial part of life now. A big part of society is highly dependent on these machines to do things for us and make things happen 24/7. It is hard to imagine how it is like to go back to our more primitive life a few decades back when computers were only used by a few industries and not many people are adept in using it in their day like today. Today, most homes have their own computers. They are just crucial to living normally in our modern world when the Internet of Things is so widespread throughout the globe it is but common sense to own a computer for your ease and convenience. However, life is not always a breeze for us tech users, especially once our gadget breaks down. First off, they’re often expensive and a repair isn’t always a guarantee for a fix. Second, you may lose a lot of your precious files or have them stolen by cyber crooks that frequent the web nowadays.
There are always bugs and problems that we should be wary of especially if we use the computer and navigate the web on a daily basis. But you need to be aware of other potential issues that you may experience soon and it is once again bad news for you. The Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities can leave everyone potential victims to hackers and not a single computer in the globe is safe from it as it is essentially connected to your computer’s processor and not just to the OS, for instance. Even tech giants like Google and Amazon are not safe and can fall prey to hackers through Spectre and Meltdown.
At the core of the problem is the manner in which computers are designed these days with the end goal of being as fast to perform a task as it possibly can. As they were reaching the limits of processor hardware enhancements, processor companies became cleverer and tried looking for ways which would help shave off time taken to give an output.
To this end, processors were designed to anticipate and do calculations in the background and keep it in the cache memory for faster access. Then, depending on the input, it would discard non relevant output and share only the relevant result. This process, called speculative execution, helps processors anticipate and do some routine tasks so that the system over all seem faster to the user.
Attackers can access your PC through Microsoft Word, for instance, and gain access to a part of the PC memory it should not be able to access in the first place. It is a big issue in the tech world now and everyone is taking precautions and it all starts with the software update. There is little we can do about the problem as this vulnerability has been around for many years now but by being alert and cautious all the time and maintaining an updated operating system, you can save your device from an unfortunate fate.
To understand where these security weakness stem from, it helps to know about a process that chips use called speculative execution. Speculative execution is typically a good thing—it helps processors run efficiently. In simple terms, the processor guesses what might come next as it’s computing and does some work in advance to get ahead, in the likely chance that it is right and that work will come in handy. Think of it as doing tasks in your free time that you’re very sure you’ll need to do later, like preparing a report your boss asks for most Wednesdays.
“There’s nothing that’s inherently wrong or insecure about the idea of speculative execution—it’s all about the way that it gets implemented,” Ghosemajumder says.
Both Spectre and Meltdown leverage speculative execution to do something they shouldn’t, and both affect chips from the likes of Intel, AMD, and ARM; Spectre is considered to be the broader threat. Together, there are actually three vulnerabilities, because the term “Spectre” encompasses two different types of attacks.
Computer makers designed modern processors to be able to anticipate our next actions for increased efficiency and overcome hardware limitations but in turn, it has proven to be a liability. This ability of computers to make calculations in the background and store and discard information they consider as relevant or not is known as speculative execution. And it is thoroughly unfortunate for all of us that hackers found this to be highly useful in obtaining sensitive information such as passwords and other login details that you have already discarded or not used that much. It really is a big problem when these data fall into the wrong hands, so make it a point to keep your device’s software updated at all times.
The most common computer problem you may encounter pertains to data loss. Hence, data recovery may be necessary. It helps to be knowledgeable on RAID and server issues so you can still salvage your most important files without spending a lot on these services. It is a must to educate yourself about these things since we already live in a digital world and the chances of things changing in the near future are rather slim to none.