Your guide to the CPU flaws: to patch or not to patch?

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Your guide to the CPU flaws: to patch or not to patch?
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Latest patches

Earlier in February, however, Intel issued a fresh patch for devices running its Skylake Core or Core M processors that it claims won’t introduce bad side-effects. The company has since rolled out patches for its Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake families, so now systems with sixth, seventh and eighth generation Intel Core and Core X series processors can now be patched.

The recently announced Intel Xeon Scalable and Intel Xeon D processors for data centre systems are also covered by the patches.

The updates might have arrived a few weeks after the original buggy patch release, but the company said it had successfully developed a number of microcode solutions to protect its customers against the Meltdown and Spectre exploits.

“This effort has included extensive testing by customers and industry partners to ensure the updated versions are ready for production,” Shenoy said in a blog post. “On behalf of all of Intel, I thank each and every one of our customers and partners for their hard work and partnership throughout this process.”

It's still not clear if Intel has successfully patched its fourth and fifth generation Haswell and Broadwell CPUs yet, however. 

Should I patch?

That’s the big question. If you’re not willing to take the risk, and particularly if your business could prove a lucrative target for hackers, not patching these vulnerabilities is probably not an option for you. And generally, it’s still good practice to keep up-to-date with the patch releases from the makers of your devices and operating systems.

However, as the problems with the original Intel and Microsoft patches illustrate, you should update with care. If your business has a number of systems, patch testing should be an important part of your update deployment process.

Finally, it appears that Intel’s latest patches for its more recent CPU families will fix the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities without the side-effects of the original updates. But the situation is still fluid, so you should keep up-to-date witih the latest security news so you can make informed decisions. And those with older systems not yet covered by the latest patches should be extra vigilant about their security measures.

This feature is based on an article originally appeared at IT Pro.

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