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All iPhones, iPads and Macs are affected by chip security problem, Apple says

FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, file photo, a customer sets up his new iPhone 7 Plus, right,
Every iPhone is affected by a computer-chip flaw, Apple said.
(Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press)
Bloomberg

Apple Inc. said all Mac computers and iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads, are affected by chip security flaws unearthed this week, but the company emphasized that there are no known exploits affecting users.

The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant said recent software updates for iPads, iPhones, iPod Touch devices, Mac desktops and laptops and the Apple TV set-top box mitigate one of the vulnerabilities, known as Meltdown. The Apple Watch, which runs a derivative of the iPhone’s operating system, is not affected, according to the company.

Despite concern that fixes may slow down devices, Apple said its steps to address the Meltdown issue haven’t dented performance. The company will release an update to its Safari web browser in the coming days to defend against another form of the security flaw, known as Spectre. These steps could slow the speed of the browser by less than 2.5%, Apple said on its website.

On Wednesday, Intel Corp. confirmed a report stating that its semiconductors contain a vulnerability based around a chip-processing technique called speculative execution. Intel said its chips, which power Macs and devices from other manufacturers, contain the flaw, as do processors based on ARM Holdings architecture, which is used in iOS devices and Android smartphones.

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Security experts have said highly regulated sectors of industry, such as government offices and public health institutions, are most at risk of compromise as a result of the chip security vulnerability.

In December, Apple came under fire for iPhone software changes that reduced the performance of some older models of its smartphone. Alongside an apology and an explanation that it implemented a software change to balance out the effect of aging batteries, the company reduced the price of replacing the battery in certain phones from $79 to $29through the end of 2018.

Gurman writes for Bloomberg.


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