It is rare when there’s a security flaw that affects virtually every desktop and laptop computer, smartphone and other mobile device. The latest, discovered just a few days ago, is that risk.


Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, the risk is not a cyber-threat but rather a flaw or security hole affecting computer chips. Processing chips are the brains of the computer and are made by Intel, AMD and ARM. In this case there is an apparent risk that hackers could gain access to a remote computer or device as the computer processes information.


The Department of Homeland Security issued this warning on the vulnerabilities Wednesday.


For most of us, understanding what’s happening is less important than understanding what to do with out computers and devices.


Windows, Apple, Google and the chip makers quickly issued security updates in hopes of fixing the flaw.

For Windows PC users, go to the Microsoft support page (linked at the bottom of this story) which will guide you through the update process.

Mac and Apple users will see a prompt that they should update their device. Google Chromebooks and Android devices generally automatically update.


If your are a Windows user and haven’t gotten a prompt to update, re-boot your computer when you go to bed tonight. As it restarts Windows will check for any updates and install them. If you still don’t see a prompt to update, check the website of your anti-virus program.


Some anti-virus programs have issued updates but some still have not. Microsoft will not install the security update on any computer running 3rd party anti-virus software that has not been updated itself. Initially there were reports that the update was causing the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” on computers running anti-virus software that wasn’t updated to handle the latest Windows update.


In short, this is not a security concern to ignore. While there’s been no confirmation of the flaw being used by hackers to gain access to a computer, those hackers just learning of it are surely trying to take advantage of the vulnerability.

Microsoft support site

Microsoft update page