By now you have probably heard about the massive security flaw discovered in both AMD and Intel processors as well as a few other smaller manufacturers. Unfortunately there isn’t a fix available for all devices yet, however, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of being exposed on some Google products and services.
Of the two different flaws, Spectre is the worst and exists in almost every CPU available on the market, AMD, ARM, and Intel. What makes Spectre so bad is that it is a physical flaw, which can only be completely removed with a complete CPU redesign. Meltdown, on the other hand, is less dangerous on its own, however, when combined with Spectre allows for Spectre to be exploited far more easily. The good news is that although these flaws are physical in characteristics, software patches are already under development to fix the issues, though rumors are circulating that there may be a performance loss of between 5% and 25% on some systems.
As bad as all that sounds, there is some good news, for Google Services and Google Device users anyway. The main infrastructure that Google products run on has been patched so Search, YouTube, Google Ads, Maps, Blogger, and almost all other services and customer data held by Google is safe.
For all Android users, some models have been patched, however, the majority are still undergoing updates, so make sure you are checking back as often as possible for the latest fixes. If you aren’t sure how to check for major updates on your Android phone open Settings, scroll down to About, then Software Updates. (this may vary a little depending on your phones make and model, however, should be close by) Once you have updated your phone's core software, make sure to open the Play Store and update every app that has an update pending.
For improved safety when using Google Chrome from your desktop or laptop, you can use an optional feature called Site Isolation, to enable this feature check out the guide below. It’s worth using until Chrome 64 comes out on the 23rd of January with all the Meltdown and Spectre fixes.
Apart from these quick fixes, the rest of Googles products and services seem to already be patched or have a patch coming in the very near future. If you would like a full rundown of every Google product or service, you can check out Googles official post below.
Google’s Mitigations Against CPU Speculative Execution Attack Methods.