Thursday , 19 July 2018
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Microsoft releases emergency patch to disable Intel’s bork-ridden Spectre fix

MICROSOFT HAS released an emergency patch to deactivate the Intel’s, er, emergency patch that was causing random reboots and shiz.

In a shining example of just what a mess this whole Spectre/Meltdown malarky is, let’s break this down…

The chips were found to have vulnerabilities, so the chip vendor released new firmware designed to mitigate the risk. It’s not a complete fix, but it’s protection.

Problem is, that the firmware is rushed out. It’s buggy. It causes reboots in Windows and random crashes.

Microsoft, meanwhile, was busy making a belt and braces fix for Windows to ensure that any problem at a chip level didn’t affect the operating system. However, now, thanks to the shonky chip fix, which has been the subject of Linux founder Linus Torvalds ire, Microsoft is having to not only patch Windows but undo the potential problems from the original Intel fix.

Clear? Phew. Good. Oh, and we should probably mention that the Intel solution can cause data loss too. We mean, you couldn’t make it up, could you?

Microsoft quoth: “We are making available an out-of-band update today, KB4078130, that specifically disables only the mitigation against CVE-2017-5715 – “Branch target injection vulnerability.” In our testing, this update has been found to prevent the described behaviour in devices that have affected microcode.”

It’s worth noting that Intel is working towards a fix that doesn’t bork everything it touches, and that this patch is designed as an interim measure which you can apply manually if you’re one of the afflicted. It won’t come out over Windows Update in this form.

So far Intel hasn’t come up with a fix, good or bad, for its more recent Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake lines.

The company also promises it will have new chips that aren’t a huge mess later in the year too.

That’s still a work in progress, but in the meantime, it’s important to know that Windows seems to have this one covered, and more importantly, for all the panic, there is no evidence so far of any kind of exploitation of this vulnerability. Which is a good job as there’s a lot of headless chickens in the industry right now. µ

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