Apple admits iPhones, iPads are affected by Meltdown and Spectre microchip flaws

Here's what you need to do.

What's happened now?

Apple has confirmed that its devices are not immune to the flaws affecting devices with Intel, ARM and AMD microchips – which make up the vast majority of modern tech devices.

The tech giant announced late on Thursday that its iPhones, iPads and computers are indeed vulnerable to the security issues known as Meltdown and Spectre.

The Apple Watch, however, is not impacted.

These microchip flaws could potentially allow someone to access anything in a device's memory, including passwords, photos, text messages, documents and more.

You can find out more about the Meltdown and Spectre flaws here.

What do Apple owners need to do?

Apple says that all Mac systems and devices running iOS operating systems are affected, but at this time it's not thought that anyone has exploited the flaws.

It says it has already released mitigations to help defend against Meltdown in the following updates.

  • iOS 11.2
  • macOS 10.13.2
  • tvOS 11.2

In the coming days, it's expected to release mitigations in its Safari browser to help defend against Spectre.

Apple owners are urged to make sure their devices have the latest operating system updates. Microsoft, Amazon and Google have also been rolling out 

What else should I watch out for?

As Apple said, there is no indication that anyone has exploited the flaws in the microchip, and that should remain the case provided you don't download something dodgy.

Apple says exploiting the chip flaws "requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device."

As such it recommends "downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store."

Dan Guido, chief executive of cybersecurity consulting firm Trail of Bits, told the Guardian he expects hackers will quickly develop code they can use to launch attacks exploiting the vulnerabilities.

Won't updating my device slow it down?

It's possible. It's been estimated that fixing the flaw in Intel's chips could reduce processing speeds by up to 30 percent.

But as CNN points out, this will predominantly impact companies that deal with a lot of network traffic and use "considerable processing power," such as cloud computing providers, retailers processing transactions, and medical systems.

For personal devices, the security updates will likely slow performance on devices more than five years old, Intel said on Thursday.

For chips made within the last five years, Intel said performance "should not be significant and will be mitigated over time."

Intel added that Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google have noted no significant slowdown in the performance of its operating systems since the patches were downloaded.

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