The beginning of 2018 has been all about the Intel Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities…….and cryptocurrency. These vulnerabilities take advantages of features that modern processors have to operate more efficiently. These features are ‘out-of-order execution’ (Intel Meltdown) and ‘branch prediction’ (Spectre).
Out-of-order execution allows a processor to execute instructions in a non-sequential manner, which will result in less time spent idle. Branch prediction is a feature that predicts what instructions will be executed and where. So in a way it will execute some instructions before they even are received from the running application.
There are several patches/updates that need to be done to mitigate these vulnerabilities. These range from new BIOS/UEFI updates, Firmware updates, driver updates and of course: patches.
There are patches from Microsoft, Red Hat, CentOS, VMware, etc. Basically just about every IT administrator has some work ahead of him/her (or he/she is already done and drinking his/her earned beer). The focus of this blogpost is the patches from Microsoft.