As of this writing, Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are the biggest security flaws dominating the headlines worldwide. That’s because they are potentially present in devices that use processors from major manufacturers like ARM, AMD, and Intel. These three giant processor makers supply the entire processors demand for almost all things computing around the world.
If you’ve heard of Meltdown and Spectre lately and wanted to secure your own Windows 10 machine, this article should give an insight on how to do that.
At this point in time, details are still emerging on how exactly these vulnerabilities can affect the chips from Intel, ARM, and AMD. As far as we know, there are a number of vulnerabilities in processors from these manufacturers that can open the system to hackers so they can snatch encryption keys, personally identifiable information, and passwords from applications.
Meltdown and Spectre security flaws were discovered by a number of people only recently. The shocking thing about it is the fact that these vulnerabilities have been there for two decades. The inherent design of processors made these vulnerabilities possible. In other words, the main reason why Meltdown and Spectre are with us is due to a hardware limitation. Because every computing device — from a smartphone, PC, to a web server — needs a processor, the issue affects a huge number of devices.
Before we proceed to the main topic though, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.
No signs of Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability attacks yet
Researchers and experts on the matter have found no evidence that Meltdown and Spectre have been exploited at this time so you can breathe a sigh of relief at this time. Intel, ARM, and AMD are still scrambling to find better ways to close their chips against potential attacks.
According to Intel, Meltdown and Spectre cannot cause data corruption so can stop worrying about losing your files or precious digital moments due to these specific problems. According to other experts, Meltdown is relatively easy to patch but Spectre requires a complete processor redesign if manufacturers hope to banish it completely.
How to make your Windows 10 PC safe from Meltdown and Spectre
Although Meltdown and Spectre affects a wide range of devices, the hardest hit are Windows computers. At this time, manufacturers are scrambling to find the best way to patch the issues so you may need to both install updates from both Microsoft and your computer’s hardware maker.
Microsoft released a set of updates beginning January 3, 2018 to minimize known risks from Meltdown and Spectre. It can be expected that more similar updates will be rolled out in the coming weeks as manufacturers and publishers set their differences aside to tackle the issue head on. Addressing hardware problems with a software patch is very challenging and may not be very effective in the near future. Still, Microsoft continues to work with affected processor manufacturers to address the issue.
On your level, below are the concrete steps that you need to do to mitigate the effects of Meltdown and Spectre in your Windows 10 PC.
Enable automatic updates feature
Windows 10 devices are set to automatically download and install updates by default. If you changed this behavior before, we suggest that you set it back to its default setting. If you don’t want your PC to receive updates and install them on its own, make sure that you manually check for new security updates that might be rolled out any day.
Verify if your Windows 10 PC has January 2018 update installed
If you think you’ve recently installed the latest update from Microsoft, check it again to be on the safe side. This is important especially if you turned off automatic updates previously. To check, if you’ve installed the January 2018 update, follow these steps:
- Click on the Start button.
- Click on Settings.
- Click on Update & security.
- Click on Windows Update
- Click on Advanced options
- Select View your update history.
If your system shows that it’s running the latest Microsoft patch, then you’re good to go.
Visit your computer manufacturer website for updates
Hardware makers, Microsoft, and processor makers are all working together to address Meltdown and Spectre scare so some hardware components in your machine may receive updated drivers/firmware. Make sure to visit the web site of your computer maker for them. For example, if you have a Dell Windows 10 laptop, you can either contact Dell support by phone or visit their official support site in this link. Some manufacturers also have a dedicated page that their customers can visit to deal with Meltdown and Spectre concerns like this one from Dell.
For a more extensive list of hardware makers and their support sites, kindly visit this page.
Keep your operating system up-to-date
Installing updates is only one aspect of dealing with any security threat. Make sure that you continue doing other best practices when it comes to securing your Windows 10 PC all the one. If you have a third party antivirus software, be sure that it runs the latest update. Remember, when it comes to computing, prevention is always a better choice over cure. Like in real life, avoiding diseases is ideal than taking medicines.
We are here to help
If you are having a problem with your Windows computer, don’t hesitate to let us know about it. We understand how frustrating computer problems can be so, more so if you can’t find the right solutions at all. Our blog exists to help PC users and Windows community deal with their problems effectively. To engage with us, just fill out the questionnaire in this link and wait for our articles to be published. In order to help as many people as possible, we only provide our solutions via posts so please don’t expect that we will respond to your emails or private messages. By making all posts public, we can share our solutions to other users in a more efficient manner. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem.