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Protecting Your Smartphone From Meltdown & Spectre
Protecting Your Smartphone From Meltdown & Spectre
Time icon12 January 2018, 16:01 pm

While Intel has been dominating headlines after a kernel bug affected most of its processors putting users of Windows and Mac at risk, the major security flaws referred to as Meltdown and Spectre can also affect ARM processors which power iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads and Android smartphones. Here is what you need to know about the flaws:


What are Meltdown and Spectre?

These are security flaws that were recently discovered by Google security researchers in collaboration with others. Google notes that even if Android phones are vulnerable, exploitation has been difficult and there have been no signs of hackers taking advantage of the flaws although it is still early days. Apple on the other hand says that all iOS devices have been affected by Spectre but they have released mitigations with their iOS 11.2 update.

However, it is noteworthy, that every manufacturer is free to alter Google's Android and deploy its own versions. This may result in delayed security updates – if the manufacturers provide any at all. Especially older smartphones, dating three years and older, often do not receive any Android updates any more. 


What dangers do these flaws carry?

These security flaws would allow attackers trick applications that are otherwise considered safe into giving up information such as encryption keys and passwords. However, since the Spectre bug cannot be triggered remotely, a hacker would need to have access to your unlocked smartphone.


Should I Be worried?

Since hackers can deploy attacks using Javascript codes, visiting an unsafe web browser with your smartphone may make you prone to attacks. In an effort to mitigate risks, Google is updating Chrome and Apple plans to protect its Safari browser. While the patch provided by Google seems to slow down PCs, it has had no noticeable drop on performance in smartphones. Apple is also claiming there has been no noticeable drop in performance after installing the updates it has provided.