The latest news to land on our screens comes from, surprise surprise, one of the richest companies in the world and pioneering tech giants Apple. It’s not been a great run for them, has it?

You may have heard the terms ‘Spectre’ and ‘Meltdown’ being thrown around the internet over the past 24 hours or so. Whether you have or not, don’t worry, we’re about to inform you on all the latest to do with these new bugs affecting your Apple products.

A bad Apple

So, after all that malarky with the batteries being confirmed as true, Apple hasn’t really been in everyone’s good books recently. Even die-hard iPhone fans are struggling to defend the corporation. That said, we doubt everyone’s going to suddenly stop relying on iMessage and FaceTime – two features of iOS that seem invaluable in our current society. However, let’s discuss this new update: bugs affecting all Macs and iOS devices.

Spectre and Meltdown

First things first, what are these bugs? Spectre and Meltdown are described by Apple as ‘security issues’ which supposedly affect any modern processor, computer or operating system. These bugs were first identified as a security bug for Intel processors but it was soon uncovered that the issue wasn’t unique to those particular chips. Spectre and Meltdown affect, as Apple said, all modern computing devices. Microsoft soon responded by dishing out emergency updates to tackle the problem. Intel also released updates and Google quickly followed by posting a statement on their security blog.

If you’re wondering exactly what these bugs do, keep reading. Skip this paragraph if nerdy, complex stuff doesn’t interest you. Meltdown and Spectre are exploitation techniques. Specifically, Meltdown can be more easily exploited than Spectre – it enables kernel memory to be read by a user process. Good news if you’ve got an Apple Watch. Watch OS isn’t affected by Meltdown. Spectre, on the other hand, affects all operating systems. Basically, Spectre makes kernel memory accessible to user process due to a time delay that it can take advantage of. It’s difficult for an app to exploit these bugs but they can be exploited through JavaScript in a web browser.

What is the solution?

Well, with the latest Intel, Microsoft & Google announcements, it seems that the industry giants have got a pretty good grip on things. As it stands, Apple does say that it is working on security patches for Safari on Mac OS and iOS. The reason Apple products are affected isn’t that they are less safe than Microsoft or Google devices but because they also use chips from Intel. Basically, any devices using Intel, AMD or ARM chips can be affected by the bugs. It’s important to remember this – it’s just unfortunate that Apple was particularly slow in responding to the commotion.

Debunked rumour: We’ve heard the rumour that Watch OS is immune from the bugs. This is not true – it’s just not affected by Meltdown. The Apple Watch is still vulnerable to Spectre, however.

What can you do?

In order to keep your devices safe, Apple has issued a warning to avoid downloading any malicious software and to stick to trusted sources like the App Store. Fortunately, Apple has included mitigations for Meltdown in the latest iOS updates. Fortunately, the company will continue to work on updates for the next iOS and Mac OS instalments which can help to protect your products against Spectre. So, keep an eye out for these – if you’re not still riled up about the battery saga.

If you’re not a Mac person and you’ve got a PC, check out this article to see how you can protect your device from the flaws.

Spencer Haizel

Spencer joined Limely in April '17 as a frontend developer. He brought a whole host of new ideas and processes to improve how Limely go about things. He's passionate, particular and always eager to improve.