There have recently been two discovered vulnerabilities, currently going by the names Meltdown and Spectre. These vulnerabilities affect most modern processors (including Intel, AMD and ARM), and allows an unauthorized process access to privileged system memory. These vulnerabilities are at the processor microcode level and affect the majority of Operating Systems including Apple, Windows and Linux.
If you are running an Apple system, ensure you are up to date and keep up to date as Apple have pushed patches out already advising there will be more to follow.
Again for Linux install the latest security patches and you will be covered.
Microsoft’s Security Advisory on mitigating these vulnerability can be read here.
At this point, there are no known exploits of this vulnerability; it has only been publically disclosed.
Microsoft released a Security Only Update on January 3, 2018 to address this vulnerability for Windows devices, however there is a known compatibility issue with this patch and some Antivirus solutions, causing devices to experience a stop error (also known as blue screen errors) that make the device unable to boot.
Microsoft has recently made the January 2018 Monthly Security Roll-up available, which contains the patch to fix Meltdown and Spectre. However for our clients, our system will not deploy the patch until the Antivirus registry key is changed to confirm its compatibility with the Security Roll-up patch.
A list of AV products and their compatibility has been made available here.
Hardware manufacturers will also be releasing firmware upgrades to address these vulnerabilities so make sure you look for updates on the website for your devices.
Should I apply the Antivirus registry change manually?
We don’t recommend it, as that could cause a blue screen error if that change is made before the AV software installed on that resource is compliant with the new Microsoft update. AV vendors are automating this registry change once their software is compliant.
What if I have two AV solutions installed?
This could cause a problem if one is not compatible with the new Microsoft update, but we don’t currently have enough information to say for certain.
When will my computer get the new Microsoft update?
Once the AV registry setting is changed and confirmed it’s compatible with the Microsoft update, the next update assessment should pick up the update and deploy it.