Apple confirms iOS and macOS are vulnerable to 'Meltdown' and 'Specter'

Posted January 05, 2018

Credit: Mahathir Mohd Yasin/ShutterstockThe world became aware of Meltdown and Spectre earlier this week when it became apparent that security flaws in processors from Intel, AMD, ARM and others left machines powered by those CPUs vulnerable to exploits. The company said today that all of its Macs and iOS devices are vulnerable to the same issues.

The security vulnerabilities apply to all modern computer processors and affect almost all computers and smartphones, leaving tech companies scrambling to find a fix.

All Apple Mac computers, iPhones and iPads are affected by two serious security flaws that could give hackers access to users' data and passwords.

"All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time", Apple said in blog post on the issue.

It also advised all users to download software only from trusted sources and avoid malicious apps.

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Current updates to macOS and iOS protect against Meltdown, and Apple is working on providing better protections against Spectre. Ben Johnson, co-founder and chief strategist for cyber security firm Carbon Black, said the delay in updating customers about whether Apple's devices are at risk could affect Apple's drive to get more business customers to adopt its hardware. With Safari and virtually all other popular browsers not patched, hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users may have no secure means of browsing the web until Apple issues its patch. The statement further adds that the company will release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre.

When the chip vulnerability was first starting to be discussed publicly, some cybersecurity researchers said a fix for it could reduce the performance of affected systems by as much as 30%.

Apple said it had already released some patches but there was no evidence that the vulnerability had been exploited.

Apple said there are no known exploits for the vulnerabilities and said the iOS and MacOS updates "resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS" as measured by various benchmark tests.