Apple Confirms 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' Vulnerabilities Impact All Macs and iOS Devices, Some Fixes Already Released [Updated]

Apple today confirmed that it has addressed the recent "Meltdown" vulnerability in previously released iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 updates, with additional fixes coming to Safari in the near future to defend against the "Spectre" vulnerability.

12 inch macbook macbook pro duo
Apple has also confirmed that the two vulnerabilities affect all Mac and iOS devices. The company's full statement, available through a new support document covering Meltdown and Spectre, is below:

Security researchers have recently uncovered security issues known by two names, Meltdown and Spectre. These issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all computing devices and operating systems.

All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time. Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store.

Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown. Apple Watch is not affected by Meltdown. In the coming days we plan to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre. We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

Apple's statement does not make it clear if these vulnerabilities have been addressed in older versions of iOS and Mac, but for Macs, there were security updates for older versions of macOS released alongside macOS 10.13.2, so it's possible fixes are already available for Sierra and El Capitan.

News of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities first came to light this week, but Intel and major operating system vendors like Apple, Linux, and Microsoft have known about the issue for several months and worked to prepare a fix before the security flaws were publicly shared.

Spectre and Meltdown are serious vulnerabilities that take advantage of the speculative execution mechanism of a CPU. As these use hardware-based flaws, operating system manufacturers are required to implement software workarounds. These software workarounds can impact processor performance, but Intel has insisted most users will not see serious slowdowns. Apple also says that no measurable impact has been detected in macOS and iOS.

Apple released mitigations for Meltdown in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. watchOS did not require mitigation. Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.

The Meltdown vulnerability allows a malicious program to read kernel memory, accessing data like passwords, emails, documents, photos, and more. Meltdown can be exploited to read the entire physical memory of a target machine. The vulnerability is particularly problematic for cloud-based services.

Spectre, which covers two exploitation techniques, breaks the isolation between different applications. Apple says that while the Spectre vulnerability is difficult to exploit, it can be done using JavaScript in a web browser. Apple plans to release Safari updates for macOS and iOS to prevent Spectre-based exploits.

As with the Meltdown vulnerability, Apple says the upcoming Safari mitigations will have "no measurable impact" on Speedometer and ARES-6 tests, and an impact of less than 2.5% on the JetStream benchmark.

Apple says it will continue to test further mitigations for Spectre and will release them in future versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

Update: Apple has updated its Meltdown and Spectre support document to clarify that the Apple Watch is not affected by either vulnerability. Previously, Apple had only confirmed that the Apple Watch was unaffected by Meltdown.

Update 2: Apple has confirmed that fixes have also been released for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan in an updated security support document.

Update 3: The support document that confirmed the fixes for Sierra and El Capitan has been updated again to remove references to these two operating systems, so it remains unclear whether or not Meltdown fixes have been released for these two older operating systems.

Top Rated Comments

bradl Avatar
44 months ago
The question looming here is, will those MacOS patches be backported to Sierra down to Mavericks, or even if supported, Mountain Lion? We already know that previous versions of iOS and tvOS are not going to have this patch, so they're stuck.. but what of MacOS?

BL.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
44 months ago
That was quick. And yet there were still many crying "Why won't Apple be more open and talk about this!!!!"
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bradl Avatar
44 months ago
Does it only affect Intel processors?
Spectre affects all modern processors, including those designed by Intel, AMD and ARM, but Meltdown is currently thought only to affect Intel ('https://www.theguardian.com/technology/intel') chips manufactured since 1995, with the exception of the Itanium and Atom chips made before 2013.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/04/meltdown-spectre-computer-processor-intel-security-flaws-explainer
Guess I'm busting back out my 486SX20 (without the math coprocessor), and dropping back to 32bit Linux and Windows 3.1.

Doom, Duke Nukem, and Leisure Suit Larry, here I come! :D :P

BL.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
44 months ago
Great to hear that there was some proactive action taken quickly against these vulnerabilities. And glad to see the flaws took the proper disclosure path rather than someone tweeting how to take advantage of the vulnerability for his/her 15 minutes of fame. ;)
Daniel Gruss, a information security researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Austria's Graz Technical University was the one that discovered Meltdown last year. Though now Google claims they too discovered it after that time. Seems like one of those, "Oh... uh.... yeah... we totally already knew about that but just didn't say anything. We're totally in the know.", on Google's part.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SecuritySteve Avatar
44 months ago
The question looming here is, will those MacOS patches be backported to Sierra down to Mavericks, or even if supported, Mountain Lion? We already know that previous versions of iOS and tvOS are not going to have this patch, so they're stuck.. but what of MacOS?

BL.
Most likely the fixes will be back ported to Sierra and El Capitan alongside 10.13.3. It's not official policy, but Apple only releases security updates for the latest, and previous two OS's. Anything behind El Capitan is EOL by most software security scanners.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
44 months ago
Where are the Apple cheerleaders who were chastising Intel for this hardware flaw?

It's pretty clear Apple processors are affected as well. Where's chastising now for Apple?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
m1 ipad pro early customer

M1 iPad Pro Arrives Early for Lucky Customer

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:57 pm PDT by
Days ahead of their expected launch and seemingly before official review embargoes lift, one lucky customer has already gotten their hands on the brand new 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. Reddit User PeterDragon50 Posted on Reddit, u/PeterDragon50 has already received their 12.9-inch iPad Pro through retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Reddit user says they placed their order when pre-orders...
Twitter Feature

Twitter's 'Blue' Subscription Service May Cost $2.99, Will Offer Undo Tweet Option

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Twitter has been working on some kind of subscription service since last summer, and Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs into new features coming in apps, has shared details on just what Twitter is exploring. Twitter's subscription service could be called Twitter Blue, and at the current time, it's priced at $2.99 per month. There will be a "Collections" section that allows users to save and...
magic mouse space gray discontinued

Apple Discontinuing Space Gray Mac Accessories Now That iMac Pro is Dead

Friday May 14, 2021 11:52 am PDT by
Following the discontinuation of the iMac Pro, Apple also appears to be discontinuing Space Gray "Magic" accessories that it sold separately alongside the iMac Pro. The iMac Pro was the only Space Gray Mac, and Apple designed special matching accessories for it. The Space Gray Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad all now say "While supplies last" in small wording at the bottom...
tile amazon sidewalk integration

Apple Says Tile Trackers Sold Poorly in Apple Stores

Friday May 14, 2021 4:53 am PDT by
Earlier last month, Spotify, Tile, and Match (owner of Tinder), testified at an app store antitrust hearing spearheaded by the U.S. Senate. During the hearing, Spotify called Apple's App Store "an abusive power grab," while Tile said Apple uses its platform to "unfairly limit competition for its products." Now, in response to their testimonies, Apple's vice president and chief compliance...
apple music change forever

Apple Music Teaser: 'Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever'

Sunday May 16, 2021 2:39 pm PDT by
The Browse tab in the Music app across Apple's platforms has started displaying a prominent teaser hinting at an upcoming major announcement for Apple Music. Under the heading "Coming soon," the headline says "Get ready – music is about to change forever." An accompanying "Tune-In Video" simply shows an animated Apple Music logo. Rumors have indicated that Apple is preparing to launch a...
Top Stories 60 Feature

Top Stories: M1 iMac Benchmarks, iPhone Battery Life Tips, Colorful MacBook Air?

Saturday May 15, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Anticipation is building for the new iMac and iPad Pro models, which have started shipping out ahead of a launch around May 21. Benchmarks for the new machines are starting to come in, and the M1 chips inside of them are registering at around the same figures seen with other M1-based Macs, making for significant upgrades over previous-generation models. This week also saw some rumors about...
syng cell alpha

Longtime Apple Designer Christopher Stringer's Latest Project Is a High-Fidelity Speaker With AirPlay 2

Friday May 14, 2021 7:30 am PDT by
Christopher Stringer, a key member of Jony Ive's design team who spent 21 years at Apple before departing in 2017, is resurfacing today with his new venture Syng, which seeks to make an impact in the high-end audio market. Stringer, who contributed to many of the most iconic product designs in Apple's history, announced his plans roughly a year ago, and Syng is today introducing its flagship ...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...