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News : The importance of the middleman in a meltdown

The importance of the middleman in a meltdown

Last week, we got off to a pretty awful start for computing in 2018. News broke that two serious vulnerabilities, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, had been found in processor chips from Intel, AMD and ARM. While Spectre affects more or less every device with one of these chips manufactured in the last ten years, it's both difficult to fix and difficult to exploit. Meltdown on the other hand represents a more immediate threat, being eminently exploitable and impacting most devices available today. Fortunately, Microsoft was on hand to deliver emergency security updates to Windows PCs before any nefarious hackers could take advantage of Meltdown's flaws. Unfortunately, this didn't go quite as Microsoft expected.

Following the release of these updates, reports began flooding in that PCs with AMD processors would no longer boot up. This is a serious blunder on Microsoft's part, but it's also an important reminder that we all make mistakes. Even one of the world's biggest technology vendors, maker of the Windows operating system itself, is not infallible. Far from it, as anyone with the misfortune to use Windows ME can attest.

As a business, you can't afford to make mistakes. Mistakes cost money. You also can't afford to have mistakes made for you under the guise of necessary fixes, as has happened here with Microsoft's ill-fated update. These too cost money. But it doesn't have to be this way; enter the middleman.

I'm sure many in-house IT professionals will recoil in horror at the idea of having a third party manage their systems, but think about it. A managed IT provider controls your infrastructure, and is responsible for support, maintenance - and the flow of updates. In this scenario, a third party could have prevented the offending update from being automatically downloaded, and those machines would still be able to boot. In this way, a managed provider acts as a bridge between your systems and the hardware and software vendors who run the show, for better or worse.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “I could do that in-house, I don’t need a third party to stop Windows updates!” This is true of course; your IT staff could strictly control maintenance and updates across all your systems to ensure critical fixes are applied (or not applied, in this case) in good time. But ask yourself - is it worth the time and money? You’d have to take on IT experts if you haven’t already, for one thing. Then those experts would need to put in place and maintain company policies governing all the computer systems in your business. Believe us when we say this is more of a hassle than you’d think! Then of course, those staff have to keep up-to-date on the latest releases and revisions of the operating systems and applications your business uses, while also dealing with the day-to-day IT niggles that crop up. Sounds like a headache, right?

If you outsource support and maintenance to a third party, either supporting your on-premise systems or by adopting a cloud solution, security concerns like Meltdown and Spectre aren’t your concerns. You can rest easy knowing that your provider of choice is handling it. Additionally, just as wholesale vendors can offer you discounts due to the high volumes they work with, a managed provider deals with many clients so will have the requirements and processes to support you ready to go without hassle or expense. If you’re at all interested in safeguarding your business-critical IT, it might be worth letting the experts handle it.

Silver Lining is a managed service provider, and we can support your IT systems. We offer a 24/7 helpdesk and fully managed services for those that need them. Get in touch today if you’re interested in how we can help your business.

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