As the computer system are becoming advanced in maintaining privacy and security, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the weak links of the devices for the 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?
A 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, the Firmware is installed on hardware components like webcam, Wi-Fi receptors, battery, sound card, etc. Like any other software program, Firmware can also be updated, modified, and uninstalled.
Why is Firmware security important?
Firmware security is quite essential because even though they are an integral component of a system, their defense mechanism is not as tight as it should be. The Firmware of Basic Input and Output System (BIOS) of a computer 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 of their Firmware.
By targeting the hardware components of the device through Firmware, the cyber attackers can create havoc and widespread damage. Once the exploiters get their hands on hardware components like webcam, 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. Till that time, your device remains in the hand of cybercriminals, and they silently exploit it.
How can Firmware be exploited?
The following are the top ways Firmware could be attacked and exploited by hackers.
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 by physical distortion. If an attacker gets a few moments of physical access with 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 of them are dependent 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 the few preventive measures for that:
Design Hardware Adequately
It is essential to know that Firmware security is mainly dependent 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 the Firmware update for their hardware devices. These updates generally contain the 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 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 are using for infiltrating 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 hardware components of the device, and 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 updated. By acting on all the preventive measures listed in this post, the Firmware Security Vulnerabilities can be avoided.