Is my computer vulnerable to Spectre or Meltdown? How to find out if it has been patched
Is my computer vulnerable to Spectre or Meltdown? Does this security issue bother you? It should, if you value your privacy. And here’s how to find out if your PC is indeed at risk.
It has been quite a few months since the Spectre and Meltdown malware were discovered. These malware affect computers on a hardware level, because of vulnerabilities issues in the microcode of Intel and AMD processors. The bad news, is that almost every processor made in the last two decades are affected by these mitigations. Yes, that includes new chips too.
The only way to fix this issue, is to patch the vulnerabilities. This has to be done on every computer, and requires manual effort. That’s because this not only required an update for the device driver for the processor, the motherboard which the computer uses, also needs to be patched to address the issue.
This cannot be fixed by downloading an update and just clicking on the installer. You need to download the BIOS firmware, which is made by your motherboard manufacturer. Then you have to follow some steps given by the manufacturer, which usually involves using a USB Flash Drive with the new BIOS on it, and booting to BIOS, and installing the update using the flashing utility present there. Microsoft also had to patch Windows to secure computers from being affected by Spectre and Meltdown. But the patches provided by Intel came at the cost of CPU performance. That is, computers will run slightly slower than before, after the microcode has been updated.
You may have done all this already on your old computer. But what if you have a new computer? Did the manufacturer or dealer update your system to patch the issues?
Is my computer vulnerable to Spectre or Meltdown? How to find out?
There is a simple program called InSpectre (made by GRC), which you can download for free. This is a portable program which weighs about 126kb, so you don’t have to install it. Simply download the application and run it, it will tell you whether your computer has been patched for Spectre and Meltdown.
If it isn’t, you need to update Windows 10, and also download the driver for your processor, and the motherboard BIOS and install them to protect your PC and data. The next time someone asks you Is my computer vulnerable to Spectre or Meltdown?, you can tell them how to find out if it has been patched or not.
Keep in mind that there are some new Spectre 4 vulnerabilities which were discovered recently.