Firmware threats in YouGuv survey

  • Release Candidate 6
    We are at a “proposed final” true release candidate with nothing known remaining to be changed or fixed. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
  • Be sure to checkout “Tips & Tricks”
    Dear Guest Visitor → Once you register and log-in:

    This forum does not automatically send notices of new content. So if, for example, you would like to be notified by mail when Steve posts an update to his blog (or of any other specific activity anywhere else), you need to tell the system what to “Watch” for you. Please checkout the “Tips & Tricks” page for details about that... and other tips!



Oct 13, 2020
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 Patching has been drilled into people's heads and they're aware that the firmware in almost all of their devices is out of date.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!
...... 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.