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Meltdown & Spectre (INTEL CPU) Security Issue – Links:

  • Description/Information:

    • A hardware flaw has been discovered in CPU types of all kinds, including server and mobile chipsets. This flaw exists in server and mobile chips from multiple vendors, including Intel and ARM going back several years.  AMD is potentially impacted as well but waiting on detail confirmation.
    • What happened? A systemic flaw has been found in modern CPUs. With purpose-built code, software exploits can be run to harvest information they did not and should not have access to; The possible data breaches from this are many and serious. Spectre and Meltdown are the names of two exploits of this flaw. There is not a BIOS or firmware level fix that will address this today. As a result, Operating System, Hypervisor and Cloud vendors are rolling out patches, including VMware.  
    • Critical detail – Software patches will protect systems and applications but come with a performance penalty, estimates vary, from 5% to 30% depending on the CPU and applications running on it. Here is the current VMware response including vSphere patch links –https://blogs.vmware.com/security/2018/01/vmsa-2018-0002.html 
    • VMware Cloud on AWS environments have already been patched for this exploit back in December 2017. 
    • Customers that have vRealize Operations Manager (vROPs) can model estimates on the performance and capacity impact of the overhead these patches will have. 
      • See the below “3rd Party Blogs” for how to use vROPs dashboards to identify software/hardware versions within your environment.
    •  vRealize Network Infrastructure (vRNI) and NSX may also have an important role to play in mapping and segmenting systems that cannot be patched.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE:  When applying any of the recommended patches by VMware, be sure that you Power Off and then Power On the hosts and VMs. DO NOT do a RESTART after applying patches, If you just do a restart, the change will not be actually applied!
  • VMware Recommended Patching – General Update Order:  (steps may vary depending on what products you own) 

    1. Upgrade vCenter Server
    2. Up[grade ESXi hosts
    3. Upgrade host BIOS/firmware (if applicable)
    4. Upgrade Virtual Machines (VMs)
      1. Apply Operating System (OS) patches
      2. Upgrade VMware Tools (if applicable)
      3. Upgrade Virtual Machine (VM) hardware version (if applicable)
      4. Powr-cycle the Virtual Machine (VM) (this means power off/on…DO NOT do a RESTART!)

See Associated Link for upgrade order guidance:  https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/52085