The spectre of a technology meltdown


The world is being haunted by the threat of a disastrous collapse or breakdown of technology.

Late last year news of the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities in central processing units (CPUs) broke in the media.

It turned out that sensitive data stored in the CPU cache, such as data encryption keys, passwords, and other sensitive information, could be exploited by hackers. Practically every computing device built in the last 20 years, from smartphones and tablets to personal computers, was affected.

Despite all this no exploits, outside of cybersecurity labs, are yet known. In an attempt to keep it that way the makers of both computing devices and the components in them, are rolling out software updates designed to make our everyday technological tools more secure.

The technologists who discovered the vulnerabilities have known about it for a long time, and shared the details with manufacturers of hardware and software so that they could come up with a fix. The response was anything but quick. You’ll find a lot of very technical articles on the support websites for the likes of Apple, AMD, Microsoft, Intel, and Samsung, but you don’t really need to dive deep into the detail to ensure that your business-critical devices are as secure as possible.

The good news, both for business and personal devices, is that keeping your device up to date should eventually resolve the vulnerabilities. The even better news is that it’s relatively easy to do this yourself, although there are plenty of tech support businesses happy to be paid for this. The process is relatively simple, and very similar from device to device, so long as your device is connected to the internet. However, be aware that downloading updates via mobile data can be costly, depending on your data plan with your telco.

To keep Windows 10 up to date on a PC click Settings>Update & Security>Check for updates and follow the onscreen instructions. The process is very similar to earlier versions of Windows.

On the Apple iPad and Phone that means updating to the latest possible version of iOS by swiping through Settings>General>Software Update and following the instructions. To upgrade macOS, visit the macOS High Sierra page on the Mac App Store while you are online. Click the download button and follow the onscreen instructions.

On Android smartphones and tablets tap Settings>About Device>Software Update and, if the device is not already up to date, Update now. This process will vary from device to device and differs between Android versions.

Business users just want their computing devices to work. Following these simple steps will keep you as safe as possible. If you want to up the ante further, ESET Internet Security ( offers comprehensive protection.


About Author

David Hallett

David Hallett is a director of Hamilton software specialist Company-X, design house E9 and chief nerd at Waikato Need A Nerd.

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