Apple has confirmed that all of its iPhones, iPads, and Mac devices are affected by the recently discovered chip flaws. The company has already released OS updates to protect users from the Meltdown attack, and a patch for Spectre will arrive “in the coming days.”
While Google, Microsoft, Intel, and others were quick to put out statements following news of the two major hardware flaws on Wednesday, Apple waited a day to respond. As they use Intel and ARM components, it was already strongly suspected that Apple devices would also be affected by the flaws, which take advantage of a CPU’s speculative execution feature
“Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown,” the company wrote, adding that these updates do not slow down the devices. As the Apple Watch doesn’t use Intel chips, it is not affected.
Patches for Spectre, which is the more difficult flaw to exploit and to fix, will soon arrive for Safari on macOS and iOS. Further mitigations will release in future versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
Apple stressed that there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time, but that could soon change. As exploiting many of these issues require a malicious app be loaded onto a device, Apple is advising users to only download software from trusted sources such as its App Store.
Windows users should check out this feature, which looks at Windows 10 performance before and after the Meltdown flaw emergency patch. It appears that, as suspected, the performance impact for most desktop users, and gamers especially, appears negligible.
One person who is particularly unhappy at Intel’s response to the flaw is Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. "I think somebody inside of Intel needs to really take a long hard look at their CPU's, and actually admit that they have issues instead of writing PR blurbs that say that everything works as designed," he wrote in an email sent to a Linux list. "Or is Intel basically saying 'we are committed to selling you shit forever and ever, and never fixing anything'?"