In early 2018 the PC industry was rocked by the revelation that common processor design features, widely used to increase the performance of modern PCs, could be abused to create critical security vulnerabilities. The industry quickly responded, and is responding, to these Meltdown and Spectre threats by updating operating systems, motherboard BIOSes and CPU firmware.
Protection from these two significant vulnerabilities requires updates to every system's hardware–its BIOS which reloads updated processor firmware–and its operating system–to use the new processor features. To further complicate matters, newer processors contain features to minimize the performance impact of these important security improvements. But older processors, lacking these newer features, will be significantly burdened and system performance will suffer under some workloads.
This InSpectre utility was designed to clarify every system's current situation so that appropriate measures can be taken to update the system's hardware and software for maximum security and performance.
- When InSpectre is launched with the string “probe” in its command line, its Windows user interface will be suppressed. The application will assess its hosting system's status, then immediately terminate itself returning a decimal exitcode which encodes eight “trouble bits” itemizing trouble. Therefore, an exitcode of zero (0) is returned only by a fully secure system.
- InSpectre's more technically inclined users have asked for more information about how InSpectre makes its decisions. Non-Windows users have also asked for that information so that InSpector could be run on Linux and MacOS machines (under WINE) to check the non-Windows machine's CPU support. As shown to the right, InSpectre release #3 adds a “Show Technical Details” item in the system control menu at the upper-left corner of the app. Click on the little “Spectre” icon and select the “Show Tech Details” item to display the raw data obtained by InSpector's analysis of its operating environment.
- This second release hides its use of the registry key that was upsetting so many anti-virus scanners. A pass through Virus Total shows that made a huge difference. And that confusing paragraph was rewritten into two, which are now presented more correctly. Let's see how this second try fares.
- The first release was triggering false-positive warnings from 3rd-party anti-virus scanners. This was probably due to a registry key the application uses to enable/disable the Meltdown and Spectre protections. Also, the language used in one of the text-explainers was confusing and self-contradictory.