Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
How to Protect your Computers and Devices against the ZombieLoad Bug
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
The Zombie apocalypse has been upon us since 2011! If you're thinking about those mindless hoards of people walking or running across the landscape searching for brains, you're thinking about the wrong type of Zombies. Last year, it was discovered that all Intel processors (which happen to be the brains of your computers and smart devices) have a flaw in them that can potentially allow a hacker to 'Zombify' your devices. This flaw means all Windows computers, MacBooks, and many Chromebooks with processors installed from 2011 can allow criminals to steal data like passwords, your private browsing history, and other information directly from your processor. If your device has an AMD, you are not affected. So what's the big deal about Zombieload and what should you do about it? Read on and I will fill you in.
What the heck is ZombieLoad? ZombieLoad is part of a series of flaws that take advantage of a computer process, known as speculative execution. This process allows processors allows your computer to run faster, but the the speed increase opens holes in your processor that can allow cyber criminals to slip into your devices to see and steal the data in from your apps and programs.
Can I tell if I'm Affected?
If you have a Windows computer, a Macintosh computer, or a tablet that uses an Intel processor and you purchased it after 2011, you are vulnerable. Don't waste time rushing out to purchase the latest anti-virus software because it won't help fix the flaw. Even though you are probably using a processor that is vulnerable to ZombieLoad attacks, there's no evidence that cyber-criminals have taken advantage of this flaw yet, but you need to make sure all of your devices are protected.
How can you protect your devices? Follow these simple steps to update all of your devices.
Android devices Any Android device using Intel processors hardware will need to apply the patches. You will have to visit the manufacturer's web site to get the updates, not Google. You can also try to manually check for updates by going to the settings app on your Android device. Once there, go to ‘System’ and see if you have updates waiting for you.
Windows Computers Microsoft has released a security update for Windows 10 computers as well as computers running older versions Windows. Windows 10 updates will download automatically. You can also download updates by
visiting the Windows Support website.
Apple has released an update for Macs running macOS Mojave, High Sierra or Sierra. If you have a Mac older than these operating systems, you will still be vulnerable and there won't be any updates released by app. Beware when downloading the update because some Mac users have seen up to a 40% drop in speed when the patch is applied.
If you own a Chromebook you will be automatically protected because the Chrome OS automatically keeps itself up to date.
Average users aren't likely to be affected by the ZombieLoad flaw, but it's best to keep your devices updated. It doesn't matter if you're a Windows user or a Macintosh user, your best bet is to enable automatic updates to allow security fixes to be delivered to your computer and devices on a regular basis and when major updates are released.
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