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Computer and Information Security



By now you may have heard the pseudonyms of Meltdown and Spectre being passed around in the news.

These newfound computer ghouls are putting your information at risk.

The one thing that is most frightening about these latest anomalies is that they are affecting every single computer built in the last 5-10 years that have an Intel processor in them.

The main thing you need to do in response to this threat is to be sure to update your computer. All of those pop-ups, yellow shields, and shut-downs in the middle of doing something important that are a pain, are the things that are going to preserve your privacy and the privacy of your students. Updating your machine is the equivalent of taking your car to the shop for oil changes, tire rotation, or inspection. We do this so the car will be sure to carry us where we expect it to when we expect it to. Why not do this with your computer? If you are unsure of how to update your machine, please consult with your nearest IT person.

The biggest companies are going to bear the brunt of the first tests of this flaw. Once they get their houses in order, the next wave will be to create "bots" that will search out the weakness in laptops and personal devices to exploit the folks who don't update their machines.

These computer "flaws" were made available for the best of intentions. The chip manufacturers, in wanting to create ever faster machines, made a process called "speculative execution" so that not every process had to be checked and every program would have a pathway ready for the process to run at any given moment.

It is like having a house where every room is ready for every guest to have breakfast, lunch or dinner at any time and if they don't, the room gets readied for the next guest. This allows for speedier service. The fix for these "flaws" is to now check ahead on every guest to make sure the room is ready for them as they need it and not before...no more speculation. This will cause a slowdown in performance(service), but the trade-off is a safer machine.

Bottom line... Update your machine whenever possible.

For more information about this, please follow the links below.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/05/technology/spectre-meltdown-chip-flaws-what-to-do/

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/01/meltdown-and-spectre-heres-what-intel-apple-microsoft-others-are-doing-about-it/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/opinion/looming-digital-meltdown.html

Safe and happy computing!

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