New 'emergency' Windows update removes the last one

Delia Watkins
January 30, 2018

The Windows-maker also assured users that as of January 25, there are no indications that the Spectre variant 2 patch has been weaponized for potential hacking attacks.

Intel warned that the latest Spectre updates caused "higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior" and added that this could often lead to "data loss or corruption".

Intel also released its own patches, but its fix for the Spectre flaws was found to be buggy, with the firmware update potentially leading to "data loss or corruption".

If not all, then most of the existing hardware chips of the modern computers are fundamentally flawed thanks to both Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.

To make matters even worse, Intel's Spectre variant 2 mitigation is causing instability (random reboots) on some Windows computers.

After chipmaker Intel a potential security flaw in its chips, Microsoft issued emergency updates to supported versions of Windows earlier this month. Big names like Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft were ready relatively quickly, but most everyone else was left racing to fix or mitigate the flaws.

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Now, with KB4078130, Microsoft has provided a way to disable the Specter update and fix the reboot issue.

Beyond Intel, some chips manufactured by AMD and ARM will also require firmware fixes to protect them from Spectre or Meltdown flaws (see Spectre Reversal: AMD Confirms Chips Have Flaws).

Intel is being criticized for contacting Chinese companies before the U.S. government with regard to the Spectre/Meltdown flaws as this raises concerns of Chinese hacking attempts. Intel last week announced that the company is working on a firmware update which would restore the performance of impacted PCs. In order to download the patch, you can visit the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

An Intel spokesperson said that the company was unable to notify others, including the USA government, as the bugs were made public earlier than the decided date which was January 9. However, the patch was found to cause some slowdown with Intel processors.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that they have committed to keeping their customers and owners appraised of their progress and, through their actions. (That's the type of vulnerability that applies to Spectre and Meltdown.) That's KB4073119, and it outlines PowerShell scripts to check vulnerability protections, and registry tweaks to enable or disable them. Intel, meanwhile, told customers last week to refrain from installing current firmware updates created to counter the threats until further instructions.

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