How the Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaw Affects Your Small Business

By now, you’ve probably heard about the serious CPU flaw that affects a majority of operating systems dating as far back as 1995. We’ve even featured this in our Security Alert that went out this morning! (By the way, if you aren’t subscribed, it’d be a good idea to do so now to keep up with security issues that can affect your business or you personally.)

Who’s affected and what does it do?

This flaw affects any product using Intel, ARM, or AMD chips. Yep, that includes Apple products, too. In a small business environment, that is virtually every piece of hardware PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and even servers. If you are using a piece of hardware, a quick look at the sticker on the outside can tell you if you have an Intel chip or not. Most likely you do.

This bug allows programs to steal data that is being processed by your computer. What does this mean? Essentially, a piece of malware can see an steal the data of any program running at the same time it is. The data it can extract includes but is not limited to passwords in a password manager, emails, and instant messages. Fortunately, at this point there has been no known malware found that takes advantage of this exploit.

Although multiple researchers have reported this flaw in a short time period, it is possible that this flaw could have been found at any point in time in the past 20 years. If someone found it, why wouldn’t they report it to get it fixed? There can be a few hypothetical reasons. One reason is they stand to profit by either selling this vulnerability or utilizing it. Since this flaw can be good for extracting information, nation-states could potentially use it to extract information from other countries. We’ve already seen the NSA hide and use a flaw in its own favor. Obviously, the bad thing about not disclosing these flaws is that everyone will be affected by it. Even the people seeking to use it for their own gain.

What can a small business owner do?

The first thing you can do is patch your Windows machines today. The automatic updates for Windows operating systems were released today. Other products like Apple’s Mac and Linux based systems have already had patches released for this flaw. Please contact your IT administrator to do so. If you don’t have one, you should prioritize this task above others. Don’t have an IT administrator or the time to patch these devices yourself? Business Data Services’ Managed Services is a great option for small business owners to stay on top of technology and regain their time!

Although some people are concerned about performance issues with the patches, this will not be noticeable for the ordinary user. Having this vulnerability remain unpatched will be a far bigger problem than possibly losing some productivity on your workstation. If you aren’t already buying the top of the line equipment to shave seconds on processes, then you don’t need to worry. On top of that, preliminary tests have shown that there is little to no performance regression in most desktop workloads.

Tired of keeping up with technology news and updating your devices every time you hear something bad? Managed Services from Business Data Services can help take the pressure off your shoulders by doing the research and proactively maintaining your network for you. That way, you can focus on being on top of your industry’s news and growing your business. Call Business Data Services today at 913-239-0368 to find out more.

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