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Hackers will try to exploit Spectre and Meltdown bugs. What you need to know

Spectre and Meltdown, the two major ...

Posted: Jan 8, 2018 9:13 AM
Updated: Jan 8, 2018 9:13 AM

Spectre and Meltdown, the two major flaws discovered in computer processors, could allow cybercriminals to steal passwords or other sensitive data. And experts are on the lookout for them.

The flaws have existed in modern processors for 20 years, but news surfaced last week that virtually all computers and smartphones are affected by the bugs.

So far, there is no evidence that hackers have exploited the vulnerabilities.

But it's only a matter of time before attempts are made, according to Matt Tait, a senior fellow at UT Austin's Strauss Center.

"We'll absolutely see in the next few weeks and months people using this vulnerability, especially in the web browser to steal passwords," Tait told CNNMoney.

Many tech companies were made aware of the flaws long before the news was made public and have been working on fixes for consumer products and services.

Consumers who keep their web browsers, apps and devices up-to-date should be protected from anyone trying to use these vulnerabilities.

"If you install your security updates, you will get new clever software features designed to protect your computer," Tait said. "When your browser updates, it will prevent websites from attacking your processor and stealing your password."

Apple, Google and Microsoft have released some patches that mitigate bugs.

Related: The computer chip debacle: Businesses are scrambling

Hackers would need access to a device before they could steal information from it.

There are many ways hackers can steal personal information. For example, phishing campaigns can trick a person into providing log-in credentials or malicious software that takes advantage of outdated systems.

That's why it's so important to keep smartphones and computers up-to-date and to only download software from trusted sources.

Spectre and Meltdown are highly unusual flaws. Because they affect hardware, fixing them requires a different strategy than any other type of bug -- companies had to build new defense mechanisms.

According to Tait, companies have been working in secret for months figuring out how the vulnerabilities work, and making changes to how their operating systems, web browsers and other services operate in order to keep users secure.

"All these tech companies had to invent completely brand new types of computer science," Tait said. "They invented an entirely new way of a system protecting itself."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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