Mark Wycislik-Wilson

Meltdown patches are slowing down games such as Fortnite

Fortnite from Epic Games

Fans of the game Fortnite have been frustrated by a combination of reduced performance, and an inability to log into the game at all. The company behind the title, Epic Games, says that patches installed to mitigate against the Meltdown and Spectre bugs are to blame.

Since installing patches to address the vulnerabilities, Epic has noticed a very significant spike in processors usage. The extra strain on backend cloud services has noticeably slowed down Fortnite for some users, and rendered others unable to play the game at all.

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Microsoft drops Bitcoin support [Update: it's back]

Bitcoin with Microsoft logo

Microsoft has had something of an on-off relationship with Bitcoin over the years, and once again the Windows-maker has chosen to drop support for the cryptocurrency -- at least temporarily.

It has been reported that Microsoft is uncomfortable with the fluctuating value of Bitcoin, as well as the increased transaction fees. As such, customers will no longer be able to add to their Microsoft account balances using Bitcoin.

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Warning: Microsoft's Meltdown and Spectre patch is bricking some AMD PCs

Microsoft logo

As if the Meltdown and Spectre bug affecting millions of processors was not bad enough, the patches designed to mitigate the problems are introducing issues of their own. Perhaps the most well-known effect is a much-publicized performance hit, but some users are reporting that Microsoft's emergency patch is bricking their computers.

We've already seen compatibility issues with some antivirus tools, and now some AMD users are reporting that the KB4056892 patch is rendering their computer unusable. A further issue -- error 0x800f0845 -- means that it is not possible to perform a rollback.

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BlackBerry Mobile site hacked to run Monero cryptocurrency miner

With the popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it's perhaps little surprise that a number of websites have recently been discovered using visitors' computer to do a little mining. The latest site found to be indulging in the activity is BlackBerry Mobile -- but this time it's thanks to the work of a hacker.

As with other sites carrying out surreptitious mining, it was a CoinHive mining tool that was found embedded in the code of the site. The same hacker also placed the same miner on a handful of other sites.

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Google answers your questions about Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities

Google logo

The revelations about the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities affecting millions of processors around the world has raised a huge number of questions for many people. While businesses and large organizations are rushing to ensure that their systems -- and their data -- are protected, the average computer user has been left wondering what on Earth is going on.

While there are a lot of very technical write-ups about the implications of the Spectre and Meltdown bugs, as well as explanations of just how the exploit works, the average Joe has been left somewhat in the dark. To try to remedy this, Google has answered a series of questions relating to the security issues.

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Twitter won't ban Donald Trump because he's special

Donald Trump on Twitter

Since Donald Trump's inauguration, there have been countless calls for him to be banned from Twitter. As well as concerns that his often rash and bombastic statements could cause diplomatic nightmares nationally and internationally, there have also been suggestions that his particularly aggressive tone and threats violate Twitter's policies.

But Twitter has consistently refused to either ban the US president or remove his more controversial tweets -- despite doing the same with other users. Now the company has taken steps to explain why this is. In essence, it's because Trump -- and other world leaders -- have been granted a special status.

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HP recalls laptop batteries because of fire and burn risks

HP logo

HP has issued a voluntary worldwide recall after discovering a problem with laptop batteries. Affecting notebooks and mobile workstations, HP says the lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.

The recall covers various Pavilion, ENVY and Zbook models sold through the likes of Amazon and Best Buy as well as direct from HP. In all, some 50,000 computers sold between December 2015 and December 2017 are affected.

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Lawsuits stack up against Intel over Meltdown and Spectre bugs

Intel logo

Since news of the Meltdown and Spectre processor bugs broke, tech companies have been scrabbling to develop patches and get them out to users. Intel, on the other hand, has been desperately trying to salvage its tarnished image. What's not going to improve the mood at the company is the fact that it has been hit by a series of class action lawsuits.

In the days since the processor vulnerability was revealed, three sperate lawsuits have been filed against the chip-maker. Given the scale of the problem, it's likely that more will spring up, and other chip-makers may also be hit.

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Microsoft releases PowerShell script to check if your PC is vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre

Meltdown and Spectre

In the wake of the Meltdown and Spectre chip bug revelations, people around the world are wondering whether or not they are affected. Bearing in mind the number of chips with the flaw, the chances that your computer has a vulnerability are very high.

Microsoft rushed to get an emergency fix out to Windows 10 users, promising that Windows 7 and 8 users will be patched in the near future. The company has also released a PowerShell script that lets users check whether they have protection in place.

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Intel will have Meltdown and Spectre patches ready for 90 percent of modern processors next week

Intel processor

With Meltdown and Spectre turning into something of a PR disaster for Intel, the chip-maker has promised that patches will be made available for the vast majority of modern processors by the end of next week.

The company says that it has already released "updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years" in the form of firmware updates and software patches. By the end of next week, Intel hopes to have released updates for 90 percent of processors from the last five years. Refuting claims that have been made by many parties, Intel denies that the patches come with a significant performance impact, and says that any negative side effects will be mitigated against over time.

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Apple: all iOS and Mac devices are vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre chip bugs

Apple logo

Apple has confirmed that all of its Macs, iPhones and iPads are affected by the recently revealed Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. The company points out that while a huge number of devices are affected, there are "no known exploits impacting customers at this time."

Just as Microsoft has already pushed out an emergency patch for Windows 10 users -- with Windows 7 and 8 to follow soon -- Apple has already rolled out some patches for Meltdown with iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. An update to Safari to protect against Spectre is promised in the coming days.

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Microsoft acquires storage vendor Avere Systems to boost its hybrid cloud offerings

Avere Systems and Microsoft

Microsoft has bought file systems company Avere Systems for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is part of Microsoft's continuing shift to the cloud, and sees the company improving its enterprise products.

Avere's technology will be integrated into Microsoft Azure, continuing the company's provision of "high-performance NFS and SMB file-based storage for Linux and Windows clients running in cloud, hybrid and on-premises environments."

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Google knew about Spectre and Meltdown processor bugs last year, so its products are (mostly) protected

Google logo

When news broke of the security flaw affecting Intel chips, the tech world was more than a little surprised. And things just got more surprising as more details of Meltdown and Spectre emerged.

Perhaps most surprising is the fact that Google -- via Project Zero -- was aware of the problem in June of 2017. The company even went as far as informing Intel, AMD and ARM about the issue. But for Google customers, the good news is that the early detection of the security flaw means that Google Cloud, G Suite and Chrome users are fairly safe.

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Meltdown: Microsoft issues an emergency fix for Windows 10 to address processor bug

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

News of an enormous security bug affecting millions of processors can't have escaped your attention over the last 24 hours or so. While Intel goes into a panicked meltdown, desperately pointing out that there's another bug affecting other processors too, software fixes are starting to emerge.

macOS has already been patched, and fixes have started to roll out to numerous Linux distros as well. Now Microsoft has pushed out a rare, off-schedule emergency fix for Windows 10 users which should be automatically installed. Users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 will have to wait until next week for a patch.

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Intel chips have a huge security flaw, and the fix will slow down Windows and Linux machines

A design flaw has been discovered in Intel chips that will require major changes to be made to the Windows and Linux kernels. While patches are being worked on -- and in the case of Windows Insiders, have already rolled out -- users of both operating systems can expect to experience something of a performance hit. macOS machines running on Intel chips are also affected.

Intel is -- for the moment -- remaining tight-lipped about the specifics of the flaw that has been unearthed, but it is believed to affect processors produced in the past decade. Developers are currently estimating that systems could experience slow downs of between 5 and 30 percent.

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