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Security risks are deeper than you think

Security risks are deeper than you think

Malware was recently discovered in the firmware memory of motherboards.

According to researchers at  Kaspersky, firmware on motherboards is susceptible to compromise. What makes this kind of vulnerability so challenging is that this layer is "below" the hard drive. This means that even formatting your hard drive would not eradicate the infection! This kind of attack is known as a "boot kit". It is so named because your computer relies upon hardware and firmware layers to get your computer started, or commonly referred to as "booted".

Here are the basic steps your computer goes through when it boots.

Hardware powers up.

Very low level code is initiated to extract firmware from on-motherboard non-volatile memory chips known as EEPROMs. Non-volatile means that the data persists even without power.

This code is used to interact with your hard drive, which subsequently begins the process of getting your computer operating system running.

When we think of security, we often speak in terms of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.

In this case, the integrity of the code running on this lowest level has been compromised to become a vector for a subsequent step in a more sophisticated attack.

The best defense against this sort of attack is diligence around the integrity of the images of firmware (UEFI) on your motherboard. This is a daunting task.

If you have highly confidential data or if you rely on your computer to run your business, consider getting professional assistance.

Contact us at 973.448.0070


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