Firmware flaws could allow a malicious reflash, US CERT warns

U.S. CERT warned of three issues that could affect critical firmware

Three vendors have released fixes for vulnerabilities found in the critical firmware used during a computer's startup, according to an advisory from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

The vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to bypass a feature called Secure Boot, which verifies that firmware components carry a correct digital signature ensuring the software's authenticity. The attacker could then replace the device's firmware.

The flaws lie within some UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) systems, the advisory said. UEFI is a firmware interface that was designed to improve upon BIOS.

A boot script within the UEFI S3 Resume path "resides in unprotected memory which can be tampered with by an attacker with access to physical memory," the advisory said.

An authenticated local attacker could bypass Secure Boot and reflash, or replace, the firmware even if signed firmware updates are supposed to be used. An attack could also cause a system to be inoperable.

Several vendors have taken action. American Megatrends Incorporated (AMI), which makes BIOS and UEFI firmware, has "addressed the issue on a generic basis and is working with OEMs to implement fixes for projects in the field and production."

Intel and Phoenix Technologies, which also makes UEFI software, have issued fixes, the advisory said.

The advisory was one of three issued by U.S. CERT on Monday. The agency also warned of a "race condition" vulnerability in some Intel chipsets that could allow the bypass of a BIOS locking mechanism, allowing malicious code to be inserted into firmware.

American Megatrends and Phoenix Technologies have issued updates to address the issue, but it's unknown if other major vendors may be affected, according to the advisory.

U.S. CERT also warned in a third advisory of a buffer overflow in the open-source EDK1 project's UEFI reference implementation. One affected vendor that uses the firmware, Insyde Software, has fixed the issue.

American Megatrends, Apple, IBM, Intel and Phoenix Technologies are not affected by that flaw. However, it's not known whether other large vendors may be vulnerable.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags AppleIBMsecurityU.S. Computer Emergency Readiness TeamInsyde SoftwareExploits / vulnerabilitiesAmerican MegatrendsintelPhoenix Technologies

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?