Microsoft gives sysadmins Meltdown and Spectre detection in Windows Analytics

Broken processor

Microsoft has released an update to its free Windows Analytics tool, giving system administrators a new way to check for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

The update not only makes it possible to see whether firmware patches are already installed or if they are needed, but also helps sysadmins to determine whether the patches are causing problems of their own. The checking tool is available for fully updated versions of Windows 7 through Windows 10.

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Writing on the Windows Blog, Terry Myerson -- executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group -- says that the company is frequently asked about Meltdown and Spectre. "A top question we continue to hear from IT professionals around the world is how can they best assess if the Windows devices across their enterprise are protected?"

This is one of the reasons Windows Analytics has been updated to check for these two recent high-profile vulnerabilities. Myerson says:

These hardware-based security vulnerabilities are a new challenge for all of us. Customers' devices require both updates to CPU microcode (firmware) and the Windows operating system, and anti-virus software must be compatible with the latest Windows updates.

To help IT professionals everywhere, we have added new capabilities to our free Windows Analytics service to report the status for all the Windows devices that they manage.

He goes on to share three changes and additions that are Meltdown/Spectre-specific:

  • Anti-virus Status: Some anti-virus (AV) software may not be compatible with the required Windows Operating System updates. This status insight indicates if the devices' anti-virus software is compatible with the latest Windows security update.
  • Windows Operating System Security Update Status: This Windows Analytics insight will indicate which Windows security update is running on any device and if any of these updates have been disabled. In some cases, IT Administrators may choose to install the security update, but disable the fix.
  • Firmware Status: This insight provides details about the firmware installed on the device. Specifically, this insight reports if the installed firmware indicates that it includes the specific protections required. Initially, this status will be limited to the list of approved and available firmware security updates from Intel. We will be adding other CPU (chipset) partners' data as it becomes available to Microsoft.

To find out more about Windows Analytics, head over to the Windows for Business section of the Microsoft site.

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