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Intel Microcode Breach- Meltdown and Spectre Solutions Identified

Written on April 18, 2018 by Ben Nelson
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Introduction

Since the outburst of news and discussions about Intel's microcode vulnerabilities a couple months back, things have settled down and the tech industry has worked together to create a stabilized fix. Operating system vendors have released updates, and Puget Systems has been working with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to provide a solution for all systems affected. If you would like to jump to the BIOS microcode information for your motherboard, feel free to skip to the bottom of the article.

About Meltdown and Spectre

There are a couple key pieces to understand about the Intel vulnerabilities. Meltdown and Spectre work to exploit weaknesses stored on Intel processors. The vulnerabilities allow malicious programs an opportunity to steal information stored on the affected systems. Nearly all systems are susceptible to the exploitation including personal systems, mobile devices, and the cloud. For more in depth information about each vulnerability and the exact technical terminology, refer to the white papers for each below:

Meltdown

Spectre

Mitigating the Vulnerabilities

In order to protect your PC from Meltdown and Spectre, you will need to update your computer's software and motherboard firmware. To protect your system's software, operating system vendors including Microsoft, Apple, and different Linux distributions have worked together to create software patches to mitigate the vulnerabilities. These updates SHOULD be applied automatically but we always advise double-checking to see if you have pending patches.

Now that some time has passed, the microcode updates have proven to be stable and have not had a noticeable impact on performance.

To protect your hardware, OEM's have released BIOS patches to better protect against the microcode weakness. These patches are created by the motherboard manufacturer and are available from the support site. The affected systems will need to be flashed to the correct BIOS version with the latest microcode protection. 

Hardware BIOS Patches

Puget Systems encourages its users to apply the latest certified BIOS patch to their system to protect against these vulnerabilities. Generally, Puget Systems recommends holding off on flashing the BIOS unless there are hardware issues fixable with the update or if there are major security issues like the two highlighted in this article.  We have put together a quick guide below for finding your specific microcode patch, based on the manufacturer of the motherboard in your system. Systems configured by Puget Systems AFTER the public release of the microcode update will already have the latest BIOS update applied.

Keep in mind you will likely lose the BIOS profile we saved to the system. After applying the update, check to see if your profile was kept and reload it if possible. If the profile is not kept, you will need to reconfigure the settings manually by referencing the screenshots in the binder that came with the system, or accessing your Puget account online. If you have questions regarding flashing your BIOS please consult the motherboard manual, check out our BIOS flash article, or contact our support department with your Puget Systems order number. 

support@pugetsystems.com

(425) 458-0273 Ext. 2

Finding your Hardware Microcode Patch

Below are links to motherboard manufacturer's websites where you can find the correct BIOS version to download and apply. Simply follow the steps to locate your firmware patch.

ASUS

1. Search for your motherboard model here

2. Select the "Drivers & Tools" tab

3. Select "BIOS & Firmware"

4. Locate the firmware version with the microcode update (generally latest version)

ASROCK

1. Search for and select your motherboard model here

2. Scroll down the page and select the "Support" tab

3. Select the BIOS bubble that appears

4. Locate the firmware version with the microcode update (generally latest version)

EVGA

1. Use the motherboard BIOS/Driver finder tool here

2. Select your family and part number

3. Select "BIOS" for the type field and the operating system being used.

4. The latest BIOS version will be displayed

GIGABYTE

1. Search for and select your motherboard model here

2. Scroll down and expand the "BIOS" versions

3. Locate the firmware version with the microcode update (see the description of the patch given in the table)

Need help with your Puget Systems PC?

If something is wrong with your Puget Systems PC. We are readily accessible, and our support team comes from a wide range of technological backgrounds to better assist you!

Contact Puget Systems Support

Looking for more support guides?

If you are looking for a solution to a problem you are having with your PC, we also have a number of other support guides that may be able to assist you with other issues.

Puget Systems Online Help Guides

Tags: Vulnerability, Security, Meltdown, Spectre, BIOS, Patch