Meltdown Spectre CPU Exploits
2018 is starting off to be a bad year for AMD, ARM, and Intel—mostly Intel. Researchers revealed earlier this week that all CPUs made in the last two decades are vulnerable to hardware-based exploits that aren’t easy to fix, especially without significant performance penalties. Initially, there was just one exploit, based on Intel’s CPU architecture and the ability to execute instructions in a speculative manner, that is, essentially out of order. This helps modern CPUs in significant ways and is a fundamental part of CPU design.
Unfortunately, two primary attacks based on these fundamental CPU design principles have come to light, one significantly more serious than the other: Meltdown and Spectre. Here’s what you need to know about each.
What are Meltdown and Spectre?
What is Meltdown?
“The fact that hardware optimizations can change the state of micro-architectural elements, and thereby imperil secure software implementations, is known since more than 20 years. Both industry and the scientific community so far accepted this as a necessary evil for efficient computing.”