Meltdown, Spectre

The disclosure of two major processor vulnerabilities, Meltdown and Spectre, in early January gained significant attention due to the sheer number of processors affected. While Meltdown was determined to be relatively easy to patch against, guarding against both exploits requires both operating system and firmware patches. Further compounding things is that anti-virus software must be updated to be compatible with the latest Windows updates.

This combination of factors can make it tough to determine whether your PC is protected. But if you're an IT administrator, the issue is compounded by the number of PCs you're managing. Microsoft is looking to ease that burden a bit with an update to its free Windows Analytics tool, which can now assess Meltdown and Spectre protections for all devices being managed by IT professionals.

Windows Analytics analyzes three main areas to determine protections against Spectre and Meltdown. First is anti-virus status, which can inform you whether a device's anti-virus software is compatible with the latest Windows security update. Next, Analytics looks at Windows' OS security update status to see which security update is running on a device and whether the fix has been disabled. Lastly, Analytics looks at firmware status to see if the latest security updates from have been installed. This is initially limited to a list of approved and available updates from Intel, Microsoft says. However, the company expects to add other CPU partner data as it becomes available.

Windows Analytics

The general overview looks as though it will be incredibly handy if you're managing hundreds or thousands of computers. For more, you can get started with Windows Analytics at Microsoft.