Google issued a list that indicates most Chromebook models are safe from Meltdown, a bug known to exploit vulnerabilities found on Intel-based handset and computers.
Even as the Chromebooks are generally immune from the damages that Meltdown and Spectre can potentially cause, Google released the document as a form of confirmation that Chromebook users need not worry. The devices mostly run on ARM chips, and Meltdown mainly affects PCs and mobile devices powered by Intel CPUs.
For the most part, the Google list outlines how and why the Chromebook line is a safe bet against Meltdown.
Important Things To Know
Essentially, the Google Chromebook is a safe haven if one is worried about possible compromise on data security and privacy. As most models are ARM-powered, the line has nearly become an exception when it comes to Meltdown vulnerabilities. A quick scan of the Google list will support this fact.
To be clear, Meltdown infection can still happen on hardware designed around the ARM architecture. Fortunately for Google, their Chromebooks mostly remain free of the bug, again as indicated in the published list.
Now there are Chromebooks that rely on Intel processors for power, but since the majority of them are running Linux kernel versions 3.18 or 4.4, they have been placed in the protected zone. Users of these models can sleep soundly knowing that Meltdown will be kept at bay.
For an easy appreciation of the Google list, one only needs to check the columns labeled "Auto Update Ends," "CVE-2017-5754 Mitigations (KPTI) on M63?," and "KPTI eventually?." Note that if the column entry specifies "Yes" or "Not Needed," the model device listed is without vulnerabilities.
An entry of "No" on any of the columns will mean patches are required for protection against Meltdown, and users of Chromebook models under this cluster are advised to get the updates the moment they are out.
It will be a grim scenario for models labeled with "EoL" or end of life. In this case, no support is forthcoming, and that translates to an open door for threats of data compromise.
Battling The Bug
Intel has already announced that fixes for the Meltdown exploit found on its processing chips are rolling out. The chipmaker said releasing the patches will be completed by the end of January 2018 and called on device users to immediately apply the updates once they become available.
The issuance of these corrective measures is only half the battle. More worrisome is the fact that fundamental flaws do exist on Intel chips, indicating that the danger of hacking attacks will not entirely disappear.