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Are You Patched?

By Steve Jones,

It's been a few weeks since the Spectre/Meltdown bugs were announced for most CPUs. Microsoft has been working hard to build patches, and they've provided fixes for Windows and SQL Server. Other manufacturers have released fixes for other platforms, though I wouldn't be surprised if more patches are coming. We put together a page at SQLServerCentral with information and links, and if you haven't checked it out, you should.

If you haven't patched systems, patch them ASAP.

This is a bad bug, affecting many CPUs, across multiple architectures, and includes potential issues with virtual machines. The guidance and conversations I've heard from various vendors is that many of them aren't completely sure of all the potential risks or attack vectors, but they are worried that customers will leave this vulnerabilities open in the future. Since this affects hardware, it's entirely possible that an exploit could read memory from other applications and processes.

Again, if you haven't patched systems, patch them.

There are reports of potential issues, so everyone certainly needs to test systems. Perform a P->V (Physical to virtual conversion) and patch a VM. Make sure the server still runs. If you're on VMs, snap a copy and patch it as a test. Older processors might see a performance penalty with the patch, but worse performance is better than having a security hole in your CPU available to operating systems.

This is the type of fundamental architectural bug that's is very worrisome. The race to be efficient, to copy what works from others, this leads to less innovation not more. I hope that this is a bit of a lesson that we do need separate architectures and approaches to computing problems, both in hardware and software. I love relational databases, but I'm glad that there are other types of systems being used for data storage. I think Windows works really well, but I like competition and think it's good that we have MacOS, Linux, and more. 

It's good to have standards and interoperability, but I do think that a heterogeneous environment is good for security, and I hope the world continues to try new architectures as we advance computing ever further.

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