Firmware appears in so many computer items and accessories, from keyboards to mice, webcams to graphics and sound cards, even the battery in your computer or phone has firmware. Experts have revealed that sophisticated hackers are targeting firmware in mobile phones and computers, as they are notoriously insecure and relatively unsafe. Kaspersky Labs revealed that they had discovered malicious software was programmed to be planted within firmware on various devices. This is why firmware in phones and computers are so vulnerable.
Firmware was never intended to be secure, manufacturers never felt the need to encrypt them or at least place the same security measures as other parts of both hardware and software. One such example is that in 2011, security researcher Charlie Miller found that Apple laptop batteries were shipped with the same default passwords in their onboard chips. Anyone who got their hands on this password was able to reprogram the chip and potentially install new software.
So what can be done about these security flaws in our devices? Unfortunately not a lot can be done, as basic anti-virus programs only scan the hard drive for malicious code, malware or any other breaches, with firmware however, it is much harder to detect. The responsibility lies within the hardware and chip manufacturers to implement much stronger countermeasures against such attacks. In the meantime, keep an active lookout on any software/hardware updates that are installed, and always make sure they are official updates with signed certificates proving they are from the official provider.
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