AAPL Stock: 118.88 ( + 1.13 )

Printed from

NIST seeks comments on PC BIOS protection draft report

updated 06:20 pm EDT, Mon August 27, 2012

BIOS or UEFI attacks could render a system completely unusable

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a report offering advice to PC manufacturers on how they can assist the public good by protecting the BIOS used on servers. The report is a draft, and comments can be left with the agency until September 14, 2012. The report follows a similar report urging improvements in laptop and desktop workstations from 2011, in the wake of the Mebromi BIOS-altering malware.

The report cites the "unique and privileged position" of the BIOS as the motivation behind the revised guidelines. Of particular concern, the a BIOS attack "could be part of a sophisticated, targeted attack on an organization--either a permanent denial of service or a persistent malware presence" according to the report.

A migration underway from BIOS implementation to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) may make it easier for widespread attacks, as the UEFI is based on a universal specification. In order to qualify for the "Designed for Windows 8" program, computers must use UEFI with secure boot enabled. Apple has used UEFI in 32-bit mode until the 64-bit implementation in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, making a cross-operating system attack possible without separate executable branches of code like found in the recent Crisis malware.

To combat the increasing ease of BIOS attacks, NIST recommends that manufactures cryptographically sign their BIOS updates, and starting to think of the BIOS as "the foundation for a secure system," according to report co-author Andrew Regenscheid.

Only a handful of pre-UEFI BIOS-altering malware exist, due to the variety of environments possible. Windows-specific CIH and Chernobyl may be the first examples from the late '90s. The Mebroni malware from 2011 was very specific, only infecting Award-manufactured BIOS ROM and failing to properly execute with other manufacturers' chipsets.

by MacNN Staff



Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented