Bugged

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OPINION

 

TECH giants are currently scrambling to address the most serious computer security flaws found since the Y2K scare or Millennium Bug at the onset of the year 2000.

When computer programs were first written in the 1960s, engineers used a two-digit code for the year, leaving out the “19.” As the year 2000 approached, many feared the systems would not interpret the “00” correctly, therefore causing a major glitch in the system.

Just recently security researchers announced discovery of Meltdown and Spectre.

Meltdown is a flaw that could allow hackers to bypass the barrier hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s core memory or kernel enabling a hacker to access sensitive information such as banking records, financial data, passwords and other secret information.

Spectre, on the other hand, could allow hackers to trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up similar sensitive data.

According to researchers Spectre affects all modern processors, including those designed by Intel, AMD and ARM, a processor widely used in cellphones and tablets. Meltdown is thought to affect only those Intel chips manufactured since 1995.

This makes it very scary as potentially all our PCs and gadgets are now vulnerable to hacking and we, as users can do nothing about it. We can only hope the tech giants could find fixes fast enough to protect us.

Fortunately, there is yet no report of hackers using these security exploits to steal data. But the situation can quickly turn to the worse.

Intel claimed to have deployed “updates” to address the security flaw, although this could slow down performance. Other tech giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon also announced security fixes for the two threats.

Experts believe the only real solution is a re-design of the computer chips themselves, and it could take time.

At this time we can only hope for the best—that we have avoided the bite of these security bugs.

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