- Apple released new updates for older versions of its Mac operating system to protect against the Meltdown and Spectre attacks.
- The company had previously issued a patch for macOS High Sierra, the most recent version of its Mac operating system, but it put out a new update for High Sierra also.
- The updates shouldn’t cause the rebooting problems that some PC users experienced after installing similar fixes for Meltdown and Spectre.
If you’ve got a Mac running an older version of Apple’s computer operating system, you can now download a software patch to protect your device from the Meltdown and Spectre attacks.
Apple on Tuesday issued updates for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan, the two versions of its computer operating system that preceded macOS High Sierra, which the company released last fall. Although the company had previously released a fix for High Sierra to protect against Meltdown and Spectre, it also released a new update for that version of macOS on Tuesday to address the vulnerability that can be exploited by both of those attacks.
Intel on Monday warned users not to install its latest patches for Meltdown and Spectre, because those fixes can cause computers to reboot unexpectedly. However, an Apple representative said these latest updates for macOS and OS X don’t include Intel’s faulty code and shouldn’t trigger the reboot problem.
The Spectre and Meltdown attacks are made possible by an underlying vulnerability related to a feature called speculative execution that’s been used by nearly every computer chip found in PCs, tablets, and smartphones made over the last 20 years. The attacks, which became public earlier this month, could allow a malicious actor to exploit that vulnerability and get access to the secret data that’s on a computer, including passwords. Intel chips, which underly not only most Windows PCs but Apple’s Mac computers, are particularly vulnerable to the Meltdown attack.
Apple has another patch for Spectre in the works
To protect against those attacks, Mac users running OS X El Capitan should look for version 10.11.6 in the updates section of the App Store app on their computers. Those running macOS Sierra should look for version 10.12.6. The newly released version of High Sierra is 10.13.3.
With the updates, Apple is protecting against Meltdown and one version of the Spectre attack, the company representative said. The faulty patches issued by Intel address another variation of the Spectre attack, but one that is more of concern to cloud computing service providers, the representative said. Apple computers aren’t widely used in cloud providers’ data centres; still, the company has a fix for that variant in the works, the representative said.
“Not to minimise the risk. We are still planning to issue a mitigation,” the representative said.
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