Microsoft has now issued an emergency security update in an attempt to fix the security issues in the kernel due to a bug in processors such as Intel. The bug works in such a way that the programs and application will have access to the Kernel’s memory. The kernal links applications to the processors, memory and hardware and thus has complete control over the whole system. As a result of the bug other applications will now be able to read the kernel’s memory and its contents, this is a major security threat and so far the bug is present only in Intel and other processors such as AMD haven’t been affected by this yet.
Linux has been trying to protect their OS against this by separating the kernel’s memory away from the processor through something known as Kernel Page Table Isolation.This has caused a performance drop (around 5-30%) in some Intel processors.
The software update provided by Microsoft will also cause a drop in performance but Intel processors that are based on Skylake or newer architecture will not have a significant hit in performance though the older ones will decline due to the software and firmware updates but don’t worry, Intel says the cutback in performance will mitigate over time — lets hope they get over this issue fast.
Microsoft issues an official statement confirming the windows update, “We’re aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with chip manufacturers to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers. We are in the process of deploying mitigations to cloud services and have also released security updates to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities affecting supported hardware chips from Intel, ARM, and AMD. We have not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities had been used to attack our customers.” . It looks like these updates will be rolled out to all OS regardless of whether they run on Intel, ARM or AMD chips so most of you out there will experience an unpleasant speed drop.
The fixes provided by Microsoft also depends on the patches provided by Intel, AMD and some antivirus companies should update their software in order to work accordingly. The Microsoft updates will automatically download and install on all Windows 10 devices today and computers running on windows 7 and 8 will be updated automatically by next Tuesday.