Microsoft's Spectre fix bricks PCs with older AMD CPUs


"Users should patch the firmware and software of their devices as soon as possible, and should also be extra cautious when downloading software from unknown or suspicious sources". Computers with AMD processors are affected by Spectre, although it is significantly more hard to exploit than Meltdown.

The two bugs, nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre, affect nearly every device made in the past 20 years, including AMD, ARM, and Intel systems and processors.

Microsoft has rolled out an urgent security update to all supported versions of Windows to help protect against the recently discovered bug found in billions of devices worldwide. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years.

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Intriguingly, in AMD's response to Google Project Zero's findings, the chip maker downplayed the effects of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws on its processors.

Gmail users do not need to take any additional action to protect themselves, but users of its Chromebooks, Chrome web browser and many of its Google Cloud services will need to install updates.

The defect affects the so-called kernel memory on Intel x86 processor chips manufactured over the past decade, The Register reported citing unnamed programmers, allowing users of normal applications to discern the layout or content of protected areas on the chips.

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Microsoft patched Windows against the vulnerabilities on Wednesday, but said certain systems would not receive the patch on release, due to a clash with some anti-virus software.

"If you have not been offered the security update, you may be running incompatible anti-virus software and you should follow up with your software vendor", Microsoft said.

Microsoft also confirmed that its testing showed the mitigations did produce "some performance impact", adding it would not be noticeable to most users.

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Microsoft has scheduled a January 10 security and maintenance update for customers running cloud-based Azure virtual machines, and Amazon has notified its EC2 cloud customers that it's planning similar updates sometime between Friday and Saturday. According to a report by The Verge, security researchers are still compiling a list of antivirus software that is supported by the emergency fix. If not, then users should click the "Software Update" button which should be located just below the summary of the system information.