Firmware threats in YouGuv survey

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Harry

Member
Oct 13, 2020
17
7
Hi Steve. From episode 836... I think I know the reason that "firmware attacks against laptops/PC's" is #2 on the list of threats that IT teams are concerned about. It directly relates to next item on the list about "unpatched devices." Firmware is extremely difficult to update centrally, so it's not being updated. Patching has been drilled into people's heads and they're aware that the firmware in almost all of their devices is out of date. I don't think the answer is that high because of any current attacks. I think it is because IT knows they can't easily defend against firmware attacks. I know you guys said that firmware attacks likely require physical access, but we all know that software has little-known or forgotten capabilities that eventually get exploited. Keep up the good work!
 

Intuit

Well-known member
Dec 27, 2020
80
20
...... it is because IT knows they can't easily defend against firmware attacks. ............
Detection is virtually non-existent. I remember noticing a rogue unsigned process running on a fresh copy of Windows. Delete the process file from the Windows System32 folder, and it'd be back the next boot. Place restrictive read permissions on the file, and it still got launched during boot. I figured out a way to keep it gone. Eventually I realized that this file and process was sourced from the firmware. This is way back when laptop manufacturers first started lojacking their laptops with BIOS feature.

It's fortunate that variance in hardware makes firmware attacks much less convenient.

I've updated a lot of firmware within the Enterprise but the thing that gives me most pause, is the fact that the systems are so vulnerable during the update period; which can take as long as ten minutes. If the user (or Murphy) interrupts it, that hardware becomes an expensive brick while the user could be looking at significant downtime.