Is your business safe in light of the recent Intel chipset bug?

It's been revealed that the latest batch of Intel and AMD chipsets could have a serious security flaw that could leave your business vulnerable. Should you be concerned?

by Darren Thackeray

When it comes to minimising risk and maximising productivity, keeping your IT systems secure and up to date is paramount. This is something we do as standard for all of our clients, but what happens when something unexpected happens that you have no control over? 2018 did not get off to a good start for Intel. It came to light earlier this month that a recent batch of their processors had a security bug that could leave effected PC's vulnerable to cyberattacks. To make matters worse, the bug could also slow down some high-end machines and cause productivity issues. Things like security keys, passwords and cached files could all be made vulnerable. It's very likely the bug could affect hundreds of thousands of machines made in the past few years, and because the next 'generation' of chipsets wouldn't be released for some time, this is an issue that the likes of Microsoft and Linux were going to have to fix themselves. 

In other words, it falls to you, the end user, to ensure your machines are well oiled, secure and ready to perform. That's where we come in. 

Is your system secure and up to date?

Part of covering your bases is ensuring that the software you're using is up to date. That includes your operating system. Windows 10 is Microsoft's most secure operating system yet, and earlier this month they released a fix as part of a security update that would be applied automatically (providing your machines allow automatic updates). Unlike Windows 10, systems running Windows 7 or Windows 8 won't get the update automatically and some extra leg work may be required on your part. This is something we could also help with, but we'd strongly recommend an update to Windows 10 if you haven't already. 

That's not all you have to do to ensure your systems are secure though. Alongside the updates from Microsoft, firmware updates from the likes of Intel and AMD will also be required to work alongside the patches. And even anti-virus programmes may have to be updated to keep on working correctly. When all is said and done, that's a lot to juggle. In a statement on their blog, Microsoft said:

"We're aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with chip manufacturers to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers. We are in the process of deploying mitigations to cloud services and have also released security updates to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities affecting supported hardware chips from Intel, ARM, and AMD. We have not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities had been used to attack our customers."

It's certainly reassuring that Microsoft have responded so promptly, but there remains a lot for businesses to do in order to make sure they're safeguarded against any negative effects. In the wake of the announcement, Intel came forward and said:

"Check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available."

This puts a lot of onus on you and your team. 

Taking steps to safeguard your business

This is a particularly unfavourable event as it can not only impact the security of your files and systems, but also the speed of impacted machines. Some are reporting that the fixed being brought out could slow PCs down by as much as 30%, which will no doubt impact those business who rely on fast machines and processing power. If you have an internal IT department, this is something they should have been all over and covered off within a matter of days, but what about smaller and medium sized businesses? Most businesses with less than 50 employees don't have a dedicated in-house IT department to turn to, and these are the companies that are most vulnerable in light of these incidents. What's more, they can't be predicted. 

The first thing these SME enterprises should do is ensure there software is up to date. If you haven't already upgraded to Windows 10 you should at least be considering it, if only to get the latest security updates. Windows 10 is one of the safest and most productive operating systems you can use, and having it will mitigate much of the risk inherent to doing business online. Even with up-to-date software though, your business can still be vulnerable if you're not aware of these things as they happen. If you work for an SME, there's a good chance you're far more concerned with the day-to-day running of the business and looking after customers than you are with Intel security flaws and looking out for firmware updates. 

That's where we can help out. The relationship we try to build with our clients is more like a partnership. We take businesses without their own IT departments under our wing, and we fill that gap. It's less expensive than employing and in-house team, and we'll be there frequently to ensure your systems are running smoothly and all your machines have the very latest security updates and productivity patches. What's more, we can help with telephony, cloud back-ups, new hardware and migration. Moving into a new office? We can even help with the transition and get all your systems up and running in no time. 

For a limited time, we're offering businesses throughout London and the surrounding areas our HealthCheck+ package for FREE. This security check involves a visit to your site, as well as a detailed 20+ page report to keep and share. To find out more or book your slot, call us now on 01442 2017099.