Apple releases Spectre and Meltdown patches for older Macs

Readers who own an Apple Mac running on an older version of the company’s operating system are now able to download a software patch that promises to protect their computers against the dreaded Spectre and Meltdown attacks.

This is after Apple released updates for two of its older operating systems yesterday, namely OS X El Capitan and MacOS Sierra. These two operating systems of courses preceded the latest macOS High Sierra which was released during the autumn of 2017.

Although the company already issued a patch for High Sierra to protect it against Spectre and Meltdown attacks a while ago, this week the company also issued a new update for that particular version of macOS which addresses the issue that makes it vulnerable to exploits of both these types of attacks.

In related news, at the start of this week Intel cautioned users not to install the latest fixes for Spectre and Meltdown, because these patches could result in computers rebooting without warning. According to an Apple representative, however, the company’s latest updates for OS X and macOS do not contain Intel’s defective code and should therefore not cause this type of rebooting problem.

The Meltdown and Spectre attacks would not have been possible without an inherent weakness known as “speculative execution”. This flaw is found in just about every modern computer chip, regardless of whether it is used in a PC, smartphone, or tablet – as long as it was manufactured within the last two decades.

The attacks, which were revealed earlier in January, could enable a malicious hacker to exploit this weakness and gain access to the even the most confidential data on any computer, including financial information or passwords. Intel chips, which as used in the vast majority of Windows PCs and Macs, are particularly susceptible to the Meltdown attack.

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