Apple: Mac and iPhone both affected by big chip vulnerability


The issues - Spectre and Meltdown - are flaws in computer chips which could, in theory, allow hackers to steal data from affected systems.

There's no evidence that bad actors have yet exploited the bugs, but companies from Microsoft to Mozilla said they have worked to patch up vulnerabilities to their operating systems.

Current updates to macOS and iOS protect against Meltdown, and Apple is working on providing better protections against Spectre.

Apple simply distributed another help archive clarifying that iOS and macOS could be assaulted by the newfound (and exceptionally risky) Meltdown and Specter misuses.

While Meltdown is specific to Intel chips, Spectre affects chips from Intel, AMD and Arm.

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"Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store", it said in a statement.

"All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected", Apple said on Thursday night. While that attack is thought to be more difficult to pull off, it's also harder to guard against, and Apple Watch is as vulnerable to it as the rest of Apple's product line. Another update is coming to protect the Safari browser from Spectre. In the case of Meltdown, Apple says it released mitigations for the exploit in the iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2 and tvOS 11.2 updates.

In recent days, cybersecurity experts have released information about design flaws in microchips produced or designed by such companies as Intel, AMD and Arm Holdings, which control nearly all the chip market.

"It's a very big deal and the only thing people can do is wait for patches on systems and apply them", Shuman Ghosemajumder, chief technology officer at Shape Security, told NBC News.

Intel said it had planned to have fixes available soon. However, Apple says it hasn't seen any effect on the performance of its devices from the fixes it applied. Safari will also see an update and Apple stated its testing showed the mitigations did not severely impact performance with no "measurable reduction" in the performance as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark or common Web browsing benchmarks.