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Kovah claimed that in tests across different PCs, he was able to find and exploit BIOS vulnerabilities across 80 per cent of machines he had access to and he could find flaws in the remaining 10 per cent.
"There are protections in place that are supposed to prevent you from flashing the BIOS and we've essentially automated a way to find vulnerabilities in this process to allow us to bypass them.
Google's Chrome bounty program shows that even clever schemes like Native Client can be hit by devoted amateurs.
There's plenty of vulnerabilities to grab if there's any interface between trusted and untrusted code with the former being poorly written.
The real solution, as always, is to modify the architecture to enforce code vs data separation even if only selectively.
That or even control-pointer guards supported by hardware for speed.
It turns out bypassing the protections is pretty easy as well," added Kallenberg. EDITED TO ADD (3/31): Slides from the Can Sec West presentation.
The NSA has a term for vulnerabilities it think are exclusive to it: NOBUS, for "nobody but us." Turns out that NOBUS is a flawed concept. The bottom line is that there are some pretty huge BIOS insecurities out there.
In the demo to FORBES, an HP PC was used to carry out an attack on an ASUS machine.
There was a time when the feature was available on some motherboards. Yet, it has entirely the wrong ending: adding an extra isolation mechanism in SMM.
Like MMU's and MAC, this has never stopped sophisticated attackers.
The BIOS boots a computer and helps load the operating system.
By infecting this core software, which operates below antivirus and other security products and therefore is not usually scanned by them, spies can plant malware that remains live and undetected even if the computer's operating system were wiped and re-installed.
The vulnerabilities, which they're calling incursion vulnerabilities, were so easy to find that they wrote a script to automate the process and eventually stopped counting the vulns it uncovered because there were too many.