Apple says all iOS devices, Macs affected by processor flaws

But the company also says that "there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time" and that fixes for one flaw are already available.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read

Your iPhones may be vulnerable to a processor security flaw if you haven't updated them to the newest iOS software. 

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Those major chip security flaws, detailed Wednesday, impact all Macs and iOS devices. But Apple said downloading its latest software updates fixes one of the vulnerabilities.

Apple on Thursday said all of its computers, iPhones and iPads are affected by the two newly discovered flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre. It said at that time that the Apple Watch isn't impacted by Meltdown, and on Friday added that the smartwatch isn't affected by Spectre, either. Apple TVs, meanwhile, are affected.

The company didn't immediately give additional information about which Apple TV models are impacted. 

Apple said, though, that "there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time" and that for a hacker to exploit the flaws, there would also have to be a malicious app loaded on a Mac or iOS device. Apple recommended only downloading software from trusted locations like its App Store to avoid software with malware. 

Apple said iOS 11.2, MacOS 10.13.2 and TVOS 11.2 already defend against the Meltdown flaw. It plans to release fixes for its Safari browser over the coming days to help defend against the Spectre flaw.

"We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, MacOS, tvOS and watchOS," Apple said on a support page.

On Tuesday, news broke that a newly discovered exploit in most modern processors could make your computer or phone vulnerable to attacks. Then on Wednesday, Intel , Arm and others acknowledged their processors are affected by the flaws

Intel supplies chips for most of the world's computers, including Apple's Macs. And Arm's architecture is built into nearly every mobile processor, including chips designed by Apple for the iPhone and iPad. 

Several researchers, including a member of Google's Project Zero team, found that a design technique used in chips from Intel, Arm and others could allow hackers to access private data from the memory on your device that it shouldn't be able to see. The problem impacts processors going back more than two decades and could let hackers access passwords, encryption keys or sensitive information open in applications.

The flaws aren't unique to one particular chipmaker or device. Instead, they impact everything from phones to PCs and servers. The computing industry is scrambling to lessen the severity of the problem with updates to operating systems , web browsers, cloud-computing services and other foundations that need to be kept secure.

Intel on Thursday said that by the end of next week, it expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of its processors introduced within the past five years. The updates make computers "immune from both exploits," Intel said.

First published Jan. 4 at 4:33 a.m. PT.
Update Jan. 4 at 4:45 p.m. PT: Added background information.
Update Jan. 5 at 12:07 p.m. PT: Added that neither Spectre nor Meltdown affects the Apple Watch.

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.