02:41 PM

NIST Protects BIOS With New Security Guidelines

The standards body provides ways to detect changes to the code or configuration of a PC's startup system.

Government Innovators
Slideshow: Government Innovators
(clickimage for larger view and for full slideshow)
The organization that sets federal technology standards has provided new security guidelines for protecting the system that starts up PCs.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting comments on new guidelines to lock down a computer's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS), which--because it is a very basic, low-level function--can cause a significant security threat if unauthorized changes are made to it, according to NIST.

The document, BIOS Integrity Measurement Guidelines, provides “integrity measurement mechanisms” that have two aims, according to NIST. One is to detect changes to the BIOS code that could allow malicious software to run during a PC's boot process, and the other is to detect changes to the configuration of the system.

The document provides several use-case scenarios associated with BIOS functions that inform the security recommendations presented in the document.

The uses cases include installing and/or verifying the correct BIOS revision for a given client; imaging the BIOS with appropriate settings; setting BIOS passwords; asserting security controls requiring physical presence, including a PC's Trusted Platform Module; and registering the endpoint identity and integrity metrics in the pertinent IT databases, according to the document.

[The National Institute for Standards and Technology also has been busy building a cloud roadmap for government. See NIST Releases Federal Cloud Roadmap, Architecture.]

The guidelines--the second in a series aimed at locking down a PC's startup system--are aimed at hardware and software vendors developing products to support BIOS integrity measurement mechanisms, as well as organizations developing these types of security technologies, according to NIST.

The standards organization published the first in its series of BIOS security guidelines in April. That document, BIOS Protection Guidelines, provided ways for computer manufacturers to build security features directly into the BIOS to prevent unauthorized modifications.

Those interested have until Jan. 20, 2012 to comment on the most recent BIOS guidelines, NIST said.

Database access controls keep information out of the wrong hands. Limit who sees what to stop leaks--accidental and otherwise. Also in the new, all-digital Dark Reading supplement: Why user provisioning isn't as simple as it sounds. Download the supplement now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest September 7, 2015
Some security flaws go beyond simple app vulnerabilities. Have you checked for these?
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-02
Buffer overflow in Canary Labs Trend Web Server before 9.5.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted TCP packet.

Published: 2015-10-02
Cisco NX-OS 6.0(2)U6(0.46) on N3K devices allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (temporary SNMP outage) via an SNMP request for an OID that does not exist, aka Bug ID CSCuw36684.

Published: 2015-10-02
Cisco Email Security Appliance (ESA) 8.5.6-106 and 9.6.0-042 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (file-descriptor consumption and device reload) via crafted HTTP requests, aka Bug ID CSCuw32211.

Published: 2015-10-01
lxc-start in lxc before 1.0.8 and 1.1.x before 1.1.4 allows local container administrators to escape AppArmor confinement via a symlink attack on a (1) mount target or (2) bind mount source.

Published: 2015-10-01
kernel_crashdump in Apport before 2.19 allows local users to cause a denial of service (disk consumption) or possibly gain privileges via a (1) symlink or (2) hard link attack on /var/crash/vmcore.log.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
What can the information security industry do to solve the IoT security problem? Learn more and join the conversation on the next episode of Dark Reading Radio.