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Vulnerabilities to Most Computer Processors Revealed

In the first week of the New Year, we learned that most computer processor chips sold over the past 10 years are vulnerable to side-channel attacks.  These vulnerabilities, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, could grant a hacker access to sensitive information, such as passwords and other personal information.  Unlike software vulnerabilities seen in the likes of the WannaCry attacks, according to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), Spectre and Meltdown may require more than patches for protection since the vulnerability is in the chip itself.  In the short term, however, installing patches or updates may still be the best bet.  Chip manufactures are working to push out updates.  US-CERT warns that the updates may diminish performance by up to 30% and recommends close performance monitoring.   See the US-CERT page for information on patch availability and recommendations.  In addition to patching, companies should monitor systems closely for suspicious activity and data leaks and should immediately implement the company incident response plan if there are any signs or indications that data has been improperly accesses or removed.

© Copyright 2020 Murtha Cullina


About this Author

Dena Castricone, Murtha Cullina Law Firm, Privacy and Cybersecurity Attorney

Dena M. Castricone is a member of the Long Term Care and Health Care practice groups.  She is the Chair of the Privacy and Cybersecurity practice group and the Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.  Prior to joining Murtha Cullina, Dena served as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Frank J. Williams.

Dena’s long term care and health care clients compete in a constantly evolving industry, facing both rising administrative and regulatory burdens and shrinking reimbursement rates. She helps skilled nursing centers, physician groups, home health and...