Microsoft Rolls Out More Patches for Meltdown, Spectre CPU Flaws

Today’s topics include Microsoft issuing more Meltdown and Spectre patches; Fortinet boosting its security fabric with cloud and SD-WAN features; Google releasing Hangouts Chat for enterprise collaboration; and Slack working to keep rivals Microsoft and Google at bay.

Microsoft has resumed issuing patches to fix Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities in PC CPUs after having enough time to evaluate the best ways to fix what proved to be a complex cyber-security problem. Microsoft released an emergency patch for Windows in January and is now taking a more cautious approach to issuing Windows patches that touch both the operating system and any Intel-based hardware it runs on.

John Cable, director of Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery at Microsoft, said, “Intel [has] completed their validations and started to release microcode for newer CPU platforms. … Microsoft [is making] available Intel microcode updates, initially for some Skylake devices running the … the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update."

According to the support document, the patch will target Intel’s Skylake H and S processors for notebooks and desktops, along with power-sipping Intel Core m processors, Skylake U/Y and U23e chips. The patch applies to version 1709 of Windows 10 and the Datacenter and Standard editions of Windows Server.

On Feb. 27 at its Accelerate 18 annual customer conference in Las Vegas, network security firm Fortinet announced the launch of the FortiOS 6.0 firmware. Among the new features in FortiOS 6.0 are integrated SD-WAN security, improved cloud visibility and a security fabric audit capability.

The Fortinet security fabric ties together multiple Fortinet technologies to provide visibility into network elements, integrated detection of advanced threats and automated response capabilities.

Among the new security capabilities is a feature called cloud connectors, which offers full visibility across multicloud environments, such that an enterprise can enable end-to-end policy and enforcement. Another new capability is the Security Fabric Audit Update Service, which delivers best practices via Fortinet's threat research intelligence feed service FortiGuard updates.

Google's Hangouts Chat messaging platform for enterprise collaboration is now generally available to G Suite customers. Hangouts Chat supports team chat rooms, threaded conversations and sophisticated search functionality that allow organizations to manage and move projects forward from one place.

Chat speeds up the manual effort involved in collaborative projects such as searching for files and booking conference rooms, and it is available to Windows and macOS as well as Android and iOS users.

Each Hangouts Chat virtual room can support up to 8,000 team members, who can collaborate in 28 different languages. Chat is integrated with many G Suite productivity and collaboration apps, including Docs, Sheets, Drive and Hangouts Meet.

While Google’s Hangouts Chat, along with Microsoft’s Teams platform, is gunning for Slack to become the online hangout for everyone at work while replacing legacy collaboration tools like email and instant messaging, the 4-year-old collaboration platform, which has 6 million daily active users and a market valuation of over $5 billion, is not sitting still.

The company last year added machine learning into its platform in the form of its Highlights feature, which learns what are the most important messages, contacts or content for a user and surfaces them for easy retrieval. It is also actively working to add more artificial intelligence features for users and internal testing and management.

In addition, Slack is continuing to update its platform for scalability, reliability and performance.