IoT
5/20/2016
01:58 PM
Steve Zurier
Steve Zurier
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

5 Tips for Protecting Firmware From Attacks

Don't let hackers take advantage of holes in firmware. Here's how to stop them.
Previous
1 of 6
Next

Image Source: hackaday.com

Image Source: hackaday.com

Just about every component on a computer system contains firmware. Many people just think of the firmware on the system BIOS on a PC, but network interface cards, embedded controllers, graphics cards, USB sticks, mice, keyboards and of course, routers and switches all have firmware.

Yuriy Bulygin and John Loucaides, security researchers at Intel Security, point out that hackers attack firmware because they know many security and IT managers aren’t paying attention to it. They say security teams are so overwhelmed by the prevailing threat landscape, that they have their hands full just deploying the basics, like firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and sandboxes.

“Hackers are depending on security managers ignoring firmware, which means that spreading awareness that firmware must be protected is very important,” Loucaides says.

Bulygin and Loucaides say hackers attack firmware for three main reasons:

  • Persistence. Security mangers can clean up malware on most systems with antivirus software or sandbox it and then remediate with software. Not so with firmware. Compromised firmware could cause malware to keep coming back even after normal remediation actions. 
  • Stealth. Normal mechanisms for detecting malware do not examine firmware. Therefore, compromised firmware can be used to hide malicious behavior for a long time.
  • Full access. If malware can control system firmware, it gains full access to the system. Normal protection mechanisms used by an OS or virtual machine rely on platform characteristics that are controlled by firmware. By altering firmware, malware can usually bypass existing measures.

While much of this may be alarming, there are steps security managers can take to protect their organizations from attacks on firmware. Bulygin and Loucaides outline five tips that help security managers become aware of the issue and offer ways to take steps to plug any potential holes in firmware.

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 6
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
hilalashwaq411
50%
50%
hilalashwaq411,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2016 | 12:46:54 AM
Thank you
Thanks for the wonderful tips! Aside from installing anti malware software (like antivirus - ESET Antivirus etc), one's innocence of malware must be addressed. Be informed and cautious all the time.
honey143
50%
50%
honey143,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/26/2016 | 3:37:44 AM
greetings!!
Awesome article very informative..
White House Cybersecurity Strategy at a Crossroads
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/17/2018
The Fundamental Flaw in Security Awareness Programs
Ira Winkler, CISSP, President, Secure Mentem,  7/19/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-14492
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-21
Tenda AC7 through V15.03.06.44_CN, AC9 through V15.03.05.19(6318)_CN, and AC10 through V15.03.06.23_CN devices have a Stack-based Buffer Overflow via a long limitSpeed or limitSpeedup parameter to an unspecified /goform URI.
CVE-2018-3770
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-20
A path traversal exists in markdown-pdf version <9.0.0 that allows a user to insert a malicious html code that can result in reading the local files.
CVE-2018-3771
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-20
An XSS in statics-server <= 0.0.9 can be used via injected iframe in the filename when statics-server displays directory index in the browser.
CVE-2018-5065
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-20
Adobe Acrobat and Reader 2018.011.20040 and earlier, 2017.011.30080 and earlier, and 2015.006.30418 and earlier versions have a Use-after-free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution in the context of the current user.
CVE-2018-5066
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-20
Adobe Acrobat and Reader 2018.011.20040 and earlier, 2017.011.30080 and earlier, and 2015.006.30418 and earlier versions have an Out-of-bounds read vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to information disclosure.