A design flaw in all of the CPUs made by Intel during the past ten years exposes devices to hackers and could potentially have seismic implications for end users.
"This is the most disturbing issue to hit the industry for decades, with all modern processors, computing devices and operating systems affected," stated Ross Brewer, VP and MD for EMEA at security intelligence firm LogRhythm.
"Not only is the attack surface the biggest we've seen, with so many devices at risk globally, the exposure window is also huge as it is reliant on people voluntarily patching their systems, which obviously has a significant lag."
An operating system update will be required to fix the problem, which also affects ARM and AMD.
"The Meltdown flaw allegedly affects all systems running Intel x86 chips and is present across all popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux and macOS," added Brewer.
A second flaw, called Spectre, affects Intel, AMD and ARM cores. Apple has confirmed that all iOS devices - including iPhones, Apple TV and iPads - are also at risk from attack.
"This really is the big one, and everyone - consumers and businesses - must pay attention," warned Brewer.
"For businesses, it's never been more critical to understand the real-time behaviour of users across their networks.
"As this vulnerability opens the door to theft of credentials, logins and other private information, any unusual network activity needs to be detected, investigated and remediated as soon as it occurs."