What are the Spectre and Meltdown bugs affecting Android and Apple devices, is there a patch and are you at risk from hackers?

APPLE, Google and Microsoft are scrambling to fix a major security bug that could leave your passwords and private information exposed to hackers.

Two different versions of the bug have been revealed by the tech firms, affecting a wide range of devices including Apple Mac computers and Google's Android phones.

What are the security holes Meltdown and Spectre?

The security holes are called Meltdown and Spectre, and affect devices powered by Intel, AMD, or AMD processors.

Those companies make the most popular processors, which means a huge range of popular computing devices are at risk.

These computer chips guess what you'll do next, and execute the action in advance to make your device run faster.

If hackers can get malicious code onto your computer, they could use this common feature to steal sensitive data like passwords.

Fortunately, tech companies are hard at work on a fix.

But some experts say patching the bug could slow down your computer's performance by as much as 30 per cent.

Intel says normal users shouldn't worry too much about the potential power dip however, saying that it won't be "significant" for the average computer user.

How to stay safe from Meltdown and Spectre

In many cases, there's very little that you can do to avoid getting caught out by the hack.

Tech companies will have to fix the issue on their end, although this might mean you have to update your own device manually.

In a statement, Microsoft said it was "aware of this industry-wide issue" and that it is working closely with Intel and AMD to keep users safe.

In a bid to reassure worried customers, a Microsoft spokesperson added: "We have not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities has been used to attack our customers."

Google says it "mobilised" teams from its secretive Project Zero developer squad as soon as it learned of the bug.

On the company's official blog, Google says that affected devices include:

  • Android phones
  • Google Apps like Gmail or Drive
  • Google Chrome web browser
  • Google Home smart speaker
  • Google Chromecast

Owners of Android phones will need to make sure they download the latest security updates.

It's also worth remembering that you're safe unless hackers can infiltrate your system, so always be wary of unexpected emails or clicking links on pop-up webpages.

Luckily, Intel and Google both say that they haven't seen Meltdown or Spectre actually being used out in the wild, so it's unlikely your machine has already been affected.

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