Security Vulnerabilities Spectre and Meltdown

Information about how to mitigate the risks associated with recent chip vulnerabilities

In early January, 2018 two new vulnerabilities threatening most of the world's computers, cell phones and tablets were reported. These vulnerabilities, called Spectre and Meltdown, are a result of a flaw in the design of virtually all modern computer processors -- including Intel, AMD and ARM -- putting at risk any operating systems that run on impacted hardware. This flaw makes it possible for hackers to extract passwords and privileged/sensitive data.

Precautions must be taken to protect systems and data. Those precautions include vendor-specific security patches. Please note that the patches may result in:

  • Degraded system performance since this processor flaw exploits efficient processing capabilities, and securing against the potential threat may require circumventing those efficiencies
  • Patches may not be available for some older, unsupported hardware and software.

WPI ITS-Managed Devices

As vendors release patches for all of WPI's supported operating systems, hardware and firmware, the Information Technology Division will be:

  • Working with the university's business units to ensure that critical servers, public computers, and other WPI managed systems are sufficiently patched and protected.
  • Monitoring systems for performance issues following patching.

Personal Devices

Individuals will need to update their personally-owned computers, tablets and phones. Prompts to update may appear on devices as vendors release patches. As this situation evolves and new information becomes available, ITS encourages individuals to continue monitoring updates for their devices.

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