The defect allows a user process to read any system memory.
A VM can read memory from the host or another guest in some environments.
WHAT IS AFFECTED:
This does NOT affect POWER/PPC architecture.
Only some of this affects AMD, and only in some modes.
Almost every ARM and Intel processor since 1995 is affected.
That includes desktops, laptops, servers, cellphones, routers, automobiles with Sync/Onstar/autopilot, etc.
This defect was reported in June, 2017, but due to pervasiveness, has been embargoed.
It is only fully described now because patch notes leaked the problem.
The actual fix would be replacement of the affected CPUs with new silicon, which does not exist yet.
There is a partial software workaround which decreases system performance.
The issue is because the processor does not perform access checking prior to loading L1 cache.
Due to this design issue, data can be forced into L1 cache, and read, before access is denied by the TLB.
It’s fairly slow, at around 2k/second, but a long-running process can harvest everything.
• ARM has provided workarounds to vendors, but it’s up to them to implement
• Intel’s CEO sold off as much of his stock as possible last year after glowing projections.
• Not a peep from AMD.
• POWER/PPC is not affected.
• Windows included a partial workaround in the November security rollup.
• MacOS released a partial workaround in December’s 10.13.2
• Linux included a partial workaround in the mainline kernels 4.15, and 4.14.11.
• The workarounds decrease performance between 1% and 45% depending on the workload.
• Cloud providers are scheduling maintenance January 2018.
• Community: https://spectreattack.com
• Google: https://googleprojectzero.blogspot.com/2018/01/reading-privileged-memory-with-side.html
• Workaround: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel_page-table_isolation
• AMD: https://www.amd.com/en/corporate/speculative-execution
• A better write-up: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/03/kernel-panic-what-are-meltdown-and-spectre-the-bugs-affecting-nearly-every-computer-and-device/
• Outlet that broke the embargo: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/02/intel_cpu_design_flaw/