08 Jan 2018

Meltdown and Spectre – How does this affect your systems?

In the interest of brevity, I won’t bother to go into deep detail about the two latest PC threats that have been discovered.  Feel free to google “spectre” or “meltdown” and you can read for hours on the subject.  Suffice it to say, these two exploits are actually 20+ year old vulnerabilities in the actual processors of computers, phones and other devices.  These vulnerabilities allow attackers to access data and passwords.  Unlike most threats, these are actually problems with the hardware itself instead of software and are therefore much more difficult to fix.  Some of the threats actually cannot be fixed so that is the bad news.  The good news (sort of) is that so far neither of these vulnerabilities have been exploited in the wild.  I’ve seen this referred to as finding out you have really high blood pressure but haven’t actually had a heart attack so there is no ill effect yet.

Patches are being created by all the major manufacturers and software publishers.  These include Android, iOS, Windows, Firefox, Chrome and many others.  Once again, this is not a traditional patch solution because hardware is involved.  The fix can actually slow down older computers and can cause compatibility issues with anti-virus software.  Loading patches can actually cause problems so it should be done carefully and tested before widespread rollout to help prevent unwanted repercussions.

ComTech clients, on our service program, enjoy automated patch management.  This means that patches are rolled out as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.  Extensive testing is done before patches are released to make sure there are no problems with the anti-virus software or any other well known programs.  Every precaution is taken but there is a lot of software out there (some of it quite old) that may not be fully compatible with the patches.  If you notice any problems over the next few weeks please let us know.  Patches will be released for all the supported operating systems and applications as they complete the testing process.  At this moment I cannot give you an estimated date of completion for this process since so many systems and applications will require specific patches.  Rest assured, all systems will be patched as quickly as possible.

As usual, systems receive their patches automatically each night.  Please leave your systems on (but locked) each night so the automated maintenance can be run.  This has always been the schedule and will continue to be going forward.

If you are simply enjoying these informative updates but are not on a ComTech maintenance plan then please reply to this email for more information.  I am happy to go over the details, advantages and pricing with you.  Advanced patch management, enterprise class anti-virus, etc. are all benefits of having a managed service agreement.

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