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Protect Yourself Against the Latest Computer Vulnerabilities

Meltdown and Spectre affect nearly all devices
Thursday, January 11, 2018

With the start of the new year, new vulnerabilities (“Meltdown” and “Spectre”) were revealed that affect nearly all modern computing devices. The consequences of these vulnerabilities include the potential disclosure of sensitive information such as passwords, personal identity information, and financial account numbers.

The best way to protect yourself against these vulnerabilities is to apply software updates (“patches”) as they become available for your laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and home networking equipment.

Most software vendors have already supplied patches for Meltdown and Spectre, and you should install these updates as soon as possible. More patches are forthcoming, so keep an eye out for prompts to update your software. Due to the nature of these particular vulnerabilities, an unavoidable effect of patching is that system performance may be impacted.

“Updating software on a regular basis is the single most effective security measure you can take,” said Michael Duff, the university’s chief information security officer.

New vulnerabilities are discovered daily, so an unpatched system becomes more vulnerable as each day passes, and these vulnerabilities are exploited by criminals to commandeer systems and steal sensitive information. For more secure computing tips, see University IT’s top 10 list.

Behind the scenes, the university’s IT teams are busily updating the thousands of systems that we rely on for our work. For these teams, patching is a common occurrence and is a part of routine system maintenance. Regular patching for our IT systems is not only a best practice, it is required under Stanford’s Minimum Security Standards.

You can find additional information about how to protect common consumer computers and mobile devices from "Meltdown" and "Spectre" in this CNET article.

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