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In recent days there has been much interest in the “BadBIOS” infection being reported by Dragos Ruiu. (The best overview I’ve seen has been from Naked Security.) But to someone who has lived through several viral myths and legends, parts of it sound strange.
- It is said to infect the low-level system firmware of your computer, so it can’t be removed or disabled simply by rebooting.
These things, of course, have been around for a while, so that isn’t necessarily wrong. However, BIOS infectors never became a major vector.
- It is said to include components that work at the operating system level, so it affects the high-level operation of your computer, too.
- It is said to be multi-platform, affecting at least Windows, OS X, and OpenBSD systems.
This sounds bit odd, but we’ve had cross-platform stuff before. But they never became major problems either.
- It is said to prevent infected systems being booted from CD drives.
Possible: we’ve seen similar effects over the years, both intentionally and un.
- It is said to spread itself to new victim computers using Software Defined Radio (SDR) program code, even with all wireless hardware removed.
OK, it’s dangerous to go out on a limb when you haven’t seen details and say something can’t happen, but I’m calling bullshit on this one. Not that I don’t think someone couldn’t create a communications channel without the hardware: anything the hardware guys can do the software guys can emulate, and vice versa. However, I can’t see getting an infection channel this way, at least without some kind of minimal infection first. (It is, of course, possible that the person doing the analysis may have made a mistake in what they observed, or in the reporting of it.)
- It is said to spread itself to new victim computers using the speakers on an infected device to talk to the microphone on an uninfected one.
- It is said to infect simply by plugging in a USB key, with no other action required.
We’ve seen that before.
- It is said to infect the firmware on USB sticks.
Well, a friend has built a device to blow off dangerous firmware on USB sticks, so I don’t see that this would present any problem.
- It is said to render USB sticks unusable if they aren’t ejected cleanly; these sticks work properly again if inserted into an infected computer.
Reminds me somewhat of the old “fast infectors” of the early 90s. They had unintended effects that actually made the infections easy to remove.
- It is said to use TTF (font) files, apparently in large numbers, as a vector when spreading.
Don’t know details of the internals of TTF files, but they should certainly have enough space.
- It is said to block access to Russian websites that deal with reflashing software.
Possible, and irrelevant unless we find out what is actually true.
- It is said to render any hardware used in researching the threat useless for further testing.
Well, anything that gets reflashed is likely to become unreliable and untrustworthy …
- It is said to have first been seen more than three years ago on a Macbook.
And it’s taken three years to get these details? Or get a sample to competent researchers? Or ask for help? This I find most unbelievable.
In sum, then, I think this might be possible, but I strongly suspect that it is either a promotion for PacSec, or a promo for some presentation on social engineering.