Science

IOS and macOS updates available now address Spectre vulnerabilities

IOS and macOS updates available now address Spectre vulnerabilities

And while it's already applied patches to mitigate Meltdown (in iOS 11.2 and macOS 10.13.2), today it's time for a couple of software updates to go out in order to address Spectre.

While we were sleeping Apple dropped an update for iOS users that addresses Spectre - the two vulnerabilities that make it possible for items in kernel memory to be available to user processes. One variant of Spectre could be exploited through web browsers, which is why Apple issued fixes for Safari. Browsers have been a particular focus for patching, with similar fixes already implemented in the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox. The researchers responsible for discovering the bug, including Google's Jann Horn, are thanked in the acknowledgments.

First reported ahead of its official announcement as an Intel exclusive flaw, the security issues hitting nearly every modern computer were later revealed as three variants of two core vulnerabilities: The cross-vendor vulnerabilities Variant 1 and Variant 2, together known as Spectre, and the Intel-specific Variant 3, known as Meltdown.

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iPhone and iPad users are urged to update their software immediately via the device's General Settings section.

iOS 11.2.2 and a supplemental update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 have been released with that exact aim in mind. The download is now available from the App Store under "Updates". iOS 11.2.2 brings further fortifications for the mobile operating system against the Spectre vulnerability, and is available right now to all supported devices (iPhone 5s and newer, iPad Air and newer).

Microsoft has also issued an update for Windows users - KB4056892 - although some users are reporting problems after installing it on AMD-powered PCs.