Tech Blog

The Impact of the Spectre and Meltdown attacks

What are Spectre and Meltdown

Spectre

Spectre breaks the isolation between different applications. It allows an attacker to trick error-free programs, which follow best practices, into leaking their secrets. In fact, the safety checks of said best practices actually increase the attack surface and may make applications more susceptible to Spectre. It is harder to exploit than with Meltdown but also is harder to mitigate.

Meltdown

Meltdown breaks the most isolation between user applications and the operating system. This attack allows a program to access the memory, and information of other programs and the operating system. Which can both exploit personal computers and cloud infastructures.

What Is WebAssembly?

The passion project started at Mozilla, leading to major browser and game engine companies uniting to make it a reality

WebAssembly is a new type of code that can be run in modern web browsers and provides new features and major gains in performance. It is designed to be an effective compilation target for low-level languages like C, C++, etc.

This has huge implications for the web platform — it provides a way to run code written in multiple languages on the web at near-native speed, thus allowing client apps running on the web that previously couldn’t have done so.

WebAssembly modules can be imported into a web (or Node.js) app, exposing WebAssembly functions for use via JavaScript. JavaScript frameworks could make use of WebAssembly to gain massive performance advantages and new features while still making functionality easily available to web developers.

How was it impacted

What is a Shard Array Buffer (SAB)

This was a JavaScript performance optimization that allowed different execution threads to share the same data instead of passing the data from one thread to another each time one of them needed it. Essentially multi threading for javascript, equating to huge performance improvments.

How was this impacted

Shared Array buffers were disabled across all browers in response to the Spectre and Meltdown attacks, on January 5th 2018.

What will happen when it is resolved

The quick adoption of Shared Array Buffers by all major web browsers, game engine companies and existing web platforms will recieve huge improvements. Comapnies are eagerly waiting for this to be resolved, Web Assembly will recieve huge improvements.

dan flan