Full Mitigation for Intel’s ZombieLoad Flaw Drops Mac Performance by 40%

Apple has published an official support document regarding the enabling of full mitigation for Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities, otherwise known as ZombieLoad. Complete mitigation, which requires that hyper-threading be disabled, results in “a 40 percent reduction in performance with tests that include multithreaded workloads and public benchmarks.”

That is a severe loss, but some have pointed out full mitigation isn’t necessary for most folks. AppleInsider opinions that “unless the Mac is being used for highly secretive tasks, the user is a potential subject for hacking attempts by a sophisticated bad actor, or some other value-based reason, there isn’t really a need to turn on the full mitigation.”

Although there are no known exploits affecting customers at the time of this writing, customers who believe their computer is at heightened risk of attack can use the Terminal app to enable an additional CPU instruction and disable hyper-threading processing technology, which provides full protection from these security issues. This option is available for macOS Mojave, High Sierra and Sierra and may have a significant impact on the performance of your computer.


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