The Spectre bug that is affecting millions of Intel CPUs is one of the most wide-spread, and alarming bugs to ever have been discovered. It’s not just a Windows bug either. It affects Macs, Chromebooks, Android devices, and even iPhones and iPads. Protecting against it isn’t as simple as installing a system update. The bug can still be exploited if you haven’t updated your BIOS to a version that patches the bug, or if your browser is vulnerable to Spectre. Since a browser is one of the most common types of apps used, this is definitely something you should check for.
The good folks at Tencent have released a little web app that can check if your browser is vulnerable to Spectre. Tencent, for those that don’t know, is the Google of China. It owns the successful WeChat app that Chinese users prefer over other messaging apps. It is an internet giant in its own right.
Visit the CPU Vulnerability checker and click the ‘Click to check’ button. You can use it to check both desktop and mobile browsers. The app is quick to test desktop browsers however, mobile browsers take a little longer to check.
As per the app, Chrome on Windows 10 and Safari on iOS 11.2.1 are both safe from the bug.
If the app tells you that your browser is vulnerable to Spectre then you have one of two courses of action. First, check if there’s an update for your browser. This bug isn’t by any means small so major browser developers like Google and Mozilla will be quick to roll out updates to protect against it. Even if you use a less popular browser, chances are there is an update available for this. This goes for both desktop and mobile browsers.
In the event that there is no update, you’re going to have to switch over a browser that isn’t vulnerable. There is no other alternative at this point other than to switch to a more secure app until the one you routinely use is secure. Again, this applies to both desktop and mobile browsers.
The Spectre bug isn’t something that can be patched with just a browser update or an OS update. It requires an update across the board i.e. apps, OS, and even BIOS in order to protect against it. Also, this isn’t something you can protect yourself from by being careful online. It isn’t a matter of not visiting risky sites or not installing suspicious apps. The updates are necessary regardless how careful you are.