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4/13/2020
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Dell Releases Security Tool to Defend PCs from BIOS Attacks

The SafeBIOS Events & Indicators of Attack tool gives admins visibility into BIOS configuration changes and alerts them to potential threats.

Dell last week released a new security tool to protect PCs against cyberattacks targeting the BIOS. The SafeBIOS Events & Indicators of Attack (IoA) detects changes in BIOS configuration.

As more employees transition to home offices, cybercriminals are shifting their attack strategies to compromise endpoints and get to critical data, Dell explains in a blog post on the news. The company anticipates attackers will target the BIOS, a system built deep into the core of PCs that handles critical operations such as booting the machine and establishing a secure configuration.

"Previously, for many companies, only a fraction of their workforce was working remotely full time," explains David Konetski, Dell fellow and vice president of the client solutions office of the CTO. "When most companies' security systems and processes were originally put in place, they were created to scale but not at the rapid rate we're experiencing today."

Some businesses are working to accommodate the change by expanding their VPN bandwidth and accessibility. Some are deploying more endpoint technology to help employees be more productive while working from home but are allowing them to use personal devices amid the transition. This could drive security risk by bringing enterprise data onto unsecured devices. 

The heightened risk of BIOS-focused attacks isn't necessarily linked to working from home, Konetski explains, but to the number of endpoints coming onto the network. "With the number of endpoints growing, IT and security teams have more devices to manage, making it difficult to monitor for BIOS-level changes," he says.

BIOS attacks are highly sophisticated and can give an attacker the keys to all data on the endpoint, including valuable credentials. Someone could use a compromised BIOS to move laterally throughout an enterprise network and attack the broader IT infrastructure, he adds. 

How might they do this? Attackers could use a technique like credential harvesting to gain access to existing systems management tools and interfaces, which could let them modify the BIOS configuration as the first step in the attack chain. From there, they could try to disable anti-rollback support for BIOS to flash to a potentially vulnerable BIOS, Konetski says. The BIOS is already protected by NIST 800-147 protections, as well as technologies such as Intel Boot Guard. However, configuration of the BIOS is designed for system administrator control and access. 

Organizations can better defend against these types of attacks if they know when an intruder is moving throughout the network and changing BIOS configurations on employee devices. The SafeBIOS Events and IoA tool is designed to identify changes and events that may indicate an attack is in progress and give an administrator the information they need to defend against it.

If the tool registers a potentially malicious configuration change, IT and security teams are alerted through the management console — for example, Workspace ONE or Microsoft System Center — so they can investigate, isolate, and remediate the threat. SafeBIOS Events & IoA gives them a chance to analyze configuration changes even when an attack is ongoing.

SafeBIOS Events & IoA is available today for download on Dell commercial PCs as part of the Dell Trusted Device solution.

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Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's featured story: "When All Behavior is Abnormal, How Do We Detect Anomalies?"

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/14/2020 | 12:45:37 PM
Password anyone?
If this is a potential threat, why not explain the use of a system password to protect the BIOS. I hate the idea of allowing yet another surveillance instance in an already surveilled platform. D'oh!
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