As the computer system is becoming advanced in maintaining privacy and security, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the weak links of the devices for infiltration purpose. One such loosely secure thing is Firmware.
This post will discuss what Firmware is and how to detect and prevent Firmware security vulnerabilities.
What is Firmware?
Firmware is a type of software embedded in a piece of hardware to control its functionality. Every smart device you use, for example, Fit band, Fire Stick, Smart TV, security sensors, Smartphones, Bluetooth headphones/speakers, and others, have Firmware installed on them to utilize their hardware features and intelligence. On a computer system, Firmware is installed on hardware components like a webcam, Wi-Fi receptors, battery, sound card, etc. Firmware can be updated, modified, and uninstalled like any other software program.
Why is Firmware security important?
Firmware security is essential because even though it is an integral component of a system, its defense mechanism is not as tight as it should be. The Firmware of a computer’s Basic Input and Output System (BIOS) is crucial to carrying out essential tasks like establishing the communication between webcam and other integrated hardware components. However, the Firmware in these basic components is so unsecured that any skillful hacker can easily bypass the security programs of the system and take control of the webcam and other components by embedding the malware in their Firmware.
By targeting the device’s hardware components through Firmware, the cyber attackers can create havoc and widespread damage. Once the exploiters get their hands on hardware components like a webcam, and hard disk, they can spy on you, steal the data, inject dangerous malware like Ransomware or Trojan and even wipe out the system.
Another thing is since Firmware is not secured by a cryptographic digital signature, it cannot detect an infiltration by an intruder. So, if your hardware is compromised by a malware attack through Firmware, it might take months for the security team to notice the attack and take action. Until then, your device remains in the hands of cybercriminals, who silently exploit it.
How can Firmware be exploited?
The following are the top ways that hackers could attack and exploit firmware.
An attacker can remotely control your device by exploiting the vulnerabilities of Firmware. The intruders can use the man-in-the-middle tactic to get hold of the hardware while it is trying to establish a connection to the device using Firmware. It generally happens when the Firmware is outdated and is not equipped with the latest security patches.
The infiltrators can also exploit the Firmware vulnerabilities through physical distortion. If an attacker gets a few moments of physical access to the device, with the help of a proper hacking tool, it can bypass the security mechanism and manipulate the codes of Firmware. It generally happens when someone leaves the device unattended.
Some Firmware might require a regular update. If Firmware is updated from an unofficial means, such as a third-party website, there is a chance that the update might be infected with malware and can exploit your system.
How to prevent Firmware attacks?
Hardware components are an integral part of the system, and most depend on the Firmware to communicate and function with the system. Therefore, it is essential to prevent cybercriminals from attacking the Firmware and taking advantage of its vulnerabilities. Here are a few preventive measures for that:
- Design Hardware Adequately
It is essential to know that Firmware security mainly depends on the hardware manufacturers. Currently, many hardware makers emphasize more on the functionality and usability of the hardware, and security is the least priority. With the growth of Firmware security vulnerabilities, it is the responsibility of hardware manufacturers to design the hardware that they can withstand malware attacks and security breaches.
- Regularly Update Firmware
Many manufacturers regularly release Firmware updates for their hardware devices. These updates generally contain fixes to the vulnerabilities, new functionality, and updated options. It is essential to regularly update the Firmware to stay protected from malware attacks. Additionally, you will also receive the updated functionalities.
- Never use an Untrusted USB
Though USBs are a convenient way to store, transfer, and exchange data, they can be a gateway for malware attacks. The intruders can infect the Firmware of the USB with malware. The worrying part is the malware hidden in the Firmware of the USB device is very challenging to detect. It rarely gets caught by a security program. It is advised never to insert untrusted USB drives into your computer.
- Keep yourself updated with the Latest Security News
To prevent any device from malware attacks, it is necessary that you know about what is happening in the cybersecurity world. To understand how to tackle malware threats, you must regularly follow the malware removal guides. By keeping yourself updated, you would also know what new tricks cybercriminals use to infiltrate the devices.
- Install a Robust Security Program
Though the malware in the Firmware is tough to detect, a robust security program like MalwareFox antimalware can still protect you from its attack. It is recommended to always keep your system equipped with a solid antimalware solution.
Firmware is essential for using the device’s hardware components, which is why cybercriminals target it for infiltrating the malware into the machine. Besides keeping your system applications and OS updated, it is equally important to keep the Firmware update. By acting on all the preventive measures listed in this post, the Firmware Security Vulnerabilities can be avoided.