Apple says iOS is vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre issues

05 January, 2018, 12:28 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • Hardware fixes are by nature much slower and more difficult than software fixes. tcareob72/Thinkstock

"Analysis of these techniques revealed that while they are extremely hard to exploit, even by an app running locally on a Mac or iOS device, they can be potentially exploited in JavaScript running in a web browser", Apple said.

Apple was one of the last major computer firms left to comment on the newly discovered flaw, although it was already widely believed that its devices could be affected.

"Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store", the company adds.

On Wednesday, Alphabet Inc's Google and other security researchers disclosed two major chip flaws, one called Meltdown affecting only Intel Corp chips and one called Spectre affecting almost all computer chips made in the last decade.

"Security researchers have recently uncovered security issues known by two names, Meltdown and Spectre", Apple said in its post.

Analysis of these techniques revealed that while they are extremely hard to exploit, even by an app running locally on a Mac or iOS device, they can be potentially exploited in JavaScript running in a web browser. Apple, has already acknowledged the potential security flaw in its MAC and iOS devices but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time. In the case of Meltdown, Apple says it released mitigations for the exploit in the iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2 and tvOS 11.2 updates.


Patches against Spectre, in the form of an update to web browser Safari, will be released "in the coming days".

Companies scrambled yesterday (Jan. 3) to release patches for Windows and Android devices, with speculation mounting that the flaws, which apply to most modern processors, impacted Apple's devices, too.

The Apple Watch, which runs a derivative of the iPhone's operating system is not affected, according to the company.

Spectre and Meltdown are serious vulnerabilities that take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU. He tells Sydell that the problem is found on millions of computers, as well as smartphones and cloud storage provided by companies such as Google, Amazon Web Services, Apple and Microsoft.

The bigger immediate threat from Spectre, Apple said, is in the Safari browser.

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