Microsoft deploys patch that disables Intel's buggy Meltdown/Spectre fix

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Intel's first attempt at mitigating two major vulnerabilities in its microprocessors led to PC reboot and behavior problems, so Microsoft has come out with Windows patches to fix Intel's fixes.

Following Intel's recommendation for customers to stop deploying a set of faulty patches it issued to fix security flaws in its chips, Microsoft released the update on 27 January.

The latest update can only be installed manually by accessing the Microsoft Update Catalog.

The situation has raised the question of whether the Chinese companies Intel told about Spectre and Meltdown then relayed what they learned to Chinese government officials, and whether those authorities were able to exploit the chipset flaws.

As there have been no reported breaches due to Spectre, Microsoft made the unprecedented step of disabling the Variant 2 mitigations until Intel has found a more appropriate solution and stable fix.

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Alarmingly, Microsoft was forced to issue an emergency out-of-band Windows update last Saturday which is created to disable patches already issued for the Spectre Variant 2 bug (CVE-2017-5715). Microsoft's patches are created to resolve problems in machines that have already received the Intel patch and to prevent unpatched devices from installing Intel's patch.

Detailed at this link, Microsoft's patch KB4078130 will disable Intel's mitigation against Spectre variant 2.

"In our testing, this update has been found the prevent the behaviour described", reads an excerpt from the same January 26th support note.

Intel is "working around the clock to ensure we are addressing these issues", Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said in an update last week. While Spectre can affect all CPUs to differing degrees, Meltdown is only viable on unpatched Intel systems and can be used to expose the memory of all virtual machines on a server.

The problem was that many folks had already downloaded the patch as it was meant to fix certain security issues which pertain to the Spectre and Meltdown bugs disclosed earlier this year.