Q: The computer news recently has been full of stories about a couple Critical Computer Flaws that can be used by hackers to attack your computer systems. Can you give us a quick summary of what these flaws are?
A: There are two different flaws named Meltdown and Spectre. They were discovered last July. Both affect Intel processors going as far back as 2010. Other companies’ processors may also be affected but Intel processors are the main problem right now.
To improve system performance the hardware and software in systems are set up to look at what is currently being done and then anticipate what data might be needed for future steps. While the processor is continuing to work, other parts of it in the background, go to the area where this data is and bring it to where the main process flow is taking place so it is available when needed. In other words, they use look ahead steps to improve system performance.

Q: What devices are affected?
A: Computing devices using Intel processors. That means PCs and Macs, Cell phones and other computing devices using Intel processors.

Q: Have any malware attacks been seen yet?
A: No. The companies have been working behind the scenes since the flaws were discovered to build firmware and software fixes before any malware could be written and distributed.

Q: OK, what should I do to protect my equipment from these exposures?
A: Take three steps:

  • Apply operating system fixes for Windows, Macs and other operating systems. A Windows emergency patch came out over the weekend and more are due Tuesday. Mac patches have also been circulated and more may be on the way. Please note that antivirus programs may have to be disabled while you do this.
  • Apply Firmware patches from your computer’s manufacturer. You may have to go to your computer’s update service to get these and apply them.
  • Update your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari and others) with the latest version.

Q: Does PC Applications apply these fixes?
A: Yes, as a part of our normal cleanup and update service we normally take the three steps that I have listed above. Of course, we also check for and remove any malware that may have gotten on the machine.

Q: And where can a person find Charlie Brown and PC Applications?
A: They can call us at 507-533-6510 or they can contact us at our web site www.pcapp.com.