Category Archives: Faculty/Staff

Anything relating to faculty and staff machines

Spectre, Meltdown, Vulnerabilities in the news

You may have seen a lot of scary news stories about some vulnerabilities recently disclosed that affect just about every computing device imaginable [depending on where you get your news].

Here is a short non-technical common-sense rundown of what this is all about.

What is Spectre and Meltdown?

Basically they are newly-disclosed ways for a crafty hacker to access supposedly secret info on your device.

As puts it:

….. the issue doesn’t result from a badly written computer code. Instead, the problem comes down to the way the chips are intentionally designed.

Processors are supposed to make the secret information easier to access as they gear up to run the next process on a computer. As the programming quip goes, this is a feature, not a bug.

Why are they called Spectre and Meltdown?

Because people like to come up with cool names for these things. It’s more interesting to call it “Spectre” than “Security Bulletin #598267”.

Am I in danger?

Immediately, no. It’s not like someone could just randomly swipe information from your device by driving by your house. A hacker would need to be fairly technically minded AND install some code on your machine.

Of course, now that “everyone” knows about it, somebody somewhere is going to try to use this information.

As put it:

These vulnerabilities could allow an unprivileged attacker with direct access to a computing device, in specific circumstances, to read privileged memory belonging to other processes or memory allocated to the operating system kernel.

Notice the phrases “COULD allow”,  “with direct access to a computing device” and “in specific circumstances”. That means it would take a concerted effort to compromise your machine.

Should I panic?

Absolutely not….. not about THIS, anyway. If you would LIKE to panic about something else, be our guest.

What should I do?

Two primary things you can do, BOTH of which you should already be doing:

1) UPDATE YOUR SYSTEM and SOFTWARE. If you’ve been ignoring those system update, then get it updated NOW. OK, if you MUST get some work done, start the updates as you finish for the day, and let them run all night.

Yes, it could take that long, depending on how long you’ve been putting them off!

Especially on WIndows, MDS TEch recommends checking for updates again

2) USE COMMON SENSE ONLINE. Don’t just click anything you come across – double-eyeball it to make sure it’s actually legit. If an email comes in from someone you trust, but the contents don’t match the person – triple-check it before clicking on anything.

Will the updates slow down my machine?

Technically, yes. The big question is “will you notice a difference”? Intel has stated that most users – doing average computing stuff – won’t notice a difference.

MDS Tech’s take on this is that you MIGHT notice your machine slows down a bit – if your machine is more than 3 years old.


Will the updates break my computer?

There have been a few instances where the updates that were hurredly rushed out caused some machines with certain AMD processes to quit working., or SOME software quit working. We’ve seen some articles stating that it depends on the exact processor, what antivirus you are using, and presumably what phase the moon is in when you apply the update.

Stated another way, there doesn’t seem to be an EXACT set of causes of the problem.

Where else can I learn more?

  2. Security Week –> Apple updates
  5. – if you you’d like some deeply technical info about the various companies’ responses.

Why do people try to break into machines anyway?

Sonicwall has an interesting article on the Hacker’s motivation.



Airserver – setup and using

To start Airserver on your Windows PC, click on the Caret icon on the bottom right area of your toolbar.

Then click on the Airserver icon:

You should be able to start Airserver if it isn’t running and set some options. Options to note:

  • Let Airserver startup automatically when you login to your machine
  • Require a passcode before anyone can broadcast to your machine
  • Show a passcode onscreen – which someone would have to enter before they can project.


TRY IT OUT before using in class. You just never know what technical glitches you might encounter!

How do I mirror my iOS device over to a computer running AirServer?

On your iPad running iOS 10 or later: follow these steps to connect to AirServer from your iOS device:
  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access Control Center.
  2. The Control Center should show an option called “AirPlay Mirroring”, tap the “AirPlay Mirroring” window.
    If the option “AirPlay Mirroring” is not available, then swipe the control center to the left and the option “AirPlay Mirroring” should be visible.
  3. Now you should have a list of AirPlay receivers on your network from the menu that appeared.
  4. Select the AirPlay destination that has your computer name and the Mirroring should start on your screen.
If you are using iOS 9 or earlier you can connect to AirServer from your iOS device by following these steps:
  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access Control Center
  2. Tap the AirPlay icon. You should now see a list of AirPlay enabled receivers available on your network.
  3. Tap the name of your AirPlay receiver you wish to AirPlay to. This would be the name of your computer if you are streaming to.
  4. To begin mirroring, toggle the mirroring switch.

CLICK HERE to see a visual picture tour of the process.

You CAN have multiple iPads on your screen at the same time. CLICK HERE for details.


General help:

Sources for the above information: