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The Hidden Dangers Inside Windows & Linux Computers


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How is it relevant to PC's, since one has to gain access to devices to update firmware

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Many components can be updated without the need for special privileges, leading  to a very simple and powerful scenario for an attack:

An attacker gains access to a device via any method, such as malware delivered via email or a malicious website, or an evil maid attack. With basic user privileges, the attacker/malware could write malicious firmware to a vulnerable component.

If the component doesn’t require the firmware to be properly signed, the attacker’s code is loaded and run by the component.

The attacker can then use the unique functionality and privileges of that component to further an attack.


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Kind of old news, but on a similar subject:


There have also been others.  I remember not too long ago a blackhat talk about infecting the firmware of hardware devices and how many hardware vendors made it quite easy due to lack of basic things like signature validation/hash verification etc. so it's nothing new and has been around as long as devices uses firmware to control them (which is pretty much forever as far as computing goes).

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Sure, bad USBs, fake keyboards/keyloggers and tons of other physical dangers and infection vectors, but generally speaking the bad guys have to run some kind of code on the system to leverage any of those attack vectors, so staying clean is actually much easier as long as your outer defenses are good and you don't go picking up mysterious flash drives you find lying on the ground and go plugging them into every device that you own.

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