New viruses that leak passwords and sensitive data, called Spectre and Meltdown, were expected to wreak havoc this year, technology security companies have warned.

They are expected to affect various computing devices.

Many different vendors’ processors and operating systems are vulnerable, including Apple’s iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

According to IT security company Eset, the viruses affect the microprocessors in most of the world’s computers, including mobile devices and cloud networks.

They allow hackers to access the contents of a computer’s memory.

Airbus CyberSecurity predicted last month that 2018 could be flooded with threats via social media and wireless networks.

Researchers at Airbus compiled their top technology predictions for 2018, based on trends identified at the company’s operations centres in France, the UK and Germany in 2017.

They predicted that a lack of social media security policies would create serious risks for enterprises and that attacks on wireless networks would escalate as attackers sought to use the key reinstallation attack, called Krack, which was first made public in October 2017.

They predicted that encryption would continue to represent problems for law enforcement, raising concerns about data privacy, the increasing use of cloud computing, an increase in data breaches and the introduction of general data protection regulation.

The vulnerability could allow an attacker to intercept and read Wi-Fi traffic between devices and a Wi-Fi router and, in some cases, even modify the traffic to inject malicious data into websites.

It could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information from those devices, such as credit card details, passwords, chat messages and emails.

Researchers said that to protect against potential malware infection, customers should take these steps to secure their gadgets and data:

– Make sure browsers are up to date;

– Mozilla has said its Firefox 57 browser would address these security flaws;

– Google said Chrome 64, due to be released on January 23, would contain “mitigations to protect against exploitation”. In the meantime, users could enable “site isolation”, found in current, stable versions of Chrome to provide better protection;

– Update software and the Windows OS; and

– If you have a cloud-based server or a website hosted by a provider, check to see what steps they have taken to protect you. – Staff reporter

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