Shortly after the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities affecting most Intel processors were disclosed, Intel started releasing software updates intended to make PCs, servers, and other devices with its chips more secure.

The software patches are sort of a mixed bag, since they’re intended to make it tougher for malicious actors to steal private data without your permission… but they can also slow down PCs and servers in some situations.

But it looks like that’s not the only problem: the update Intel rolled out earlier this month also caused some computers to reboot unexpectedly. Now Intel says it’s identified the root cause… but the company isn’t quite ready to roll out the updated patch to everyone. So Intel is suggesting that you not install the earlier fix, and instead wait for the next one.

Intel says it’s already begun testing the updated security patch with “industry partners” and that a final release will be available after those tests are finished.

Fun fact, in the same announcement, Intel says “we continue to urge all customers to vigilantly maintain security best practice and for consumers to keep systems up-to-date.” Of course, if you followed that advice, you may have already installed an update which caused your have “higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior.”

Although I suppose there is a case to be made that the best way to secure a computer is to turn it off.

You can find a list of affected processors at Intel’s Security Center.

This isn’t the first problematic security update related to Spectre and Meltdown. Microsoft also had to pause the rollout of its own update to some computers that were failing to boot properly after Windows security updates were installed.

Note that while most recent Intel chips are affected by Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, some AMD and ARM-based systems are also vulnerable to some Spectre-based attacks, and at least one new class of ARM-based processors is vulnerable to Meltdown.


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3 replies on “Intel recommends NOT installing Spectre & Meltdown updates just yet (following reboot issues)”

  1. It breaks my heart to see so many people swallowing the idea that “unexpected reboots” are somehow different from crashes. Intel, the master of renaming problems to bugs, failures to features, has gotten many writers to back them on this fiction.

    Intel’s fix causes servers and computers to crash. They are up to something highly suspicious based on their work with the Linux kernel. I predict that they will continue to delay and bungle “fixes” to avoid the really awful performance penalty of matching AMD’s security against Meltdown while implementing a Spectre fix.

  2. Good luck doing that with Windows 10–even ignoring the fact that it probably was already installed by now.

    1. Fortunate for me, the tiny OS SSD I have is full so I haven’t been getting updates for a couple weeks!

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