Tech firms battle to resolve major security flaw

Amazon, Google and now Apple — as the list of digital giants hit by the “Spectre” and “Meltdown” computer security flaws grows longer, the race is on to limit the damage. “All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time,” Apple — whose devices are usually regarded as secure — said in a post on an online support page on Thursday. Almost all microprocessors produced over the past 10 years by Intel, AMD and ARM are affected. No PC or mobile device can function without the miniature components that are effectively nerve centres for executing computer programmes and apps.

And that is what distinguishes them from previous security alerts that have tended to involve software rather than hardware. In theory, Spectre and Meltdown could enable a user to “access kernel level memory access, exposing critical information that would be stored there, like system passwords,” said Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra. Luke Wagner, a software engineer at Mozilla, wrote on a security blog that it was “possible to use similar techniques from web content to read private information”. — AFP