Intel Finally Releases Safe-to-Install Spectre Patches

Intel's finally releasing new versions of the botchy Spectre patches it pushed out (and then recalled) this past January. The updates, released to laptop-makers earlier this week, should be made available to consumers during the coming days.

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Specifically, the patches protect PCs running Skylake CPUs from the Spectre 2 vulnerability. Intel released these processors in 2015, and they were the predecessor to Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs.

What To Do

If the proprietary software from your PC's manufacturer tells you it's received a firmware update to address Skylake vulnerabilities, install it.

In a blog post, Navin Shenoy, Intel's executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group warned against waiting to install this flaw, and noted how "there is frequently a substantial lag between when people receive updates and when they actually implement them."

To enforce the idea that patches should be installed, Shenoy cites a report from The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber-emergency unit (US-CERT), that claims "as many as 85 percent of all targeted attacks can be prevented with – among other things – regular system updates."

This firmware update from Intel protects users against Spectre variant 2 attacks, and avoids the "higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior," that risked "data loss or corruption."

Updates for systems running on other processors, such as Haswell and Broadwell-based computers, are in development, but not available yet. Shenoy notes that team at Intel "identified the root cause of the reboot issue affecting the initial Broadwell and Haswell microcode updates," and did not offer a time-frame for their release.

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