You’ve probably heard of two vulnerabilities recently revealed by a 22-year-old German researcher, a member of Google’s Project Zero team, Jann Horn: Meltdown and Spectre. These vulnerabilities make use of speculative execution, a feature on the latest ARM, AMD and Intel processors, which consists of anticipating the path taken by data to speed up their processing (an anticipation which, if erroneous, is subject to correction, without impacting the performance of the processor).
Meltdown and Spectre give the possibility of accessing the heart of the machine during the very short moment of this speculative execution. Theoretically, this allows malicious applications to have access to the memory of the computer and therefore to all the sensitive data that is stored (documents, passwords …). The names chosen for these two flaws reflect their scope, they are the absolute nightmare of security experts around the world, the door open to all trojan horses. All manufacturers have announced a series of patches to improve the safety of their computers.
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