Meltdown and Spectre: What Processor Design Flaws Mean for Partners

Meltdown Cybersecurity Attack

… microprocessor vulnerabilities, and it’s going to be a wild ride.”

For partners and IT departments, it means yet another fire drill of patch application and hardware inventory. The fact that such security drills have become so prevalent underscores the necessity of having automated processes that allow for applying software updates en masse to minimize admin overhead. For customers with a lackadaisical attitude toward patching, let’s hope this drives a change.

While cloud vendors insist the performance implications of security patches are minimal, partners should verify these claims with client workloads, particularly transaction-heavy database applications. Anecdotal tales of significant – as in 10 percent to 20 percent – changes in CPU utilization have already shown up online and in social media, so be prepared to add capacity should application responsiveness become unacceptable. Likewise, those with custom enterprise applications should monitor for the availability of new compilers that incorporate mitigations for the Spectre variant since, as UK National Cyber Security Center guidance points out, these will require recompilation from source code.

Kurt Marko is an IT analyst, consultant and regular contributor to a number of technology publications. See his take on 5 top SDN trends for 2018 in this report.

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