As the business world has become more accustomed to cybersecurity, companies are getting better at protecting themselves from cyberattacks. While this is true, no organization can afford to lower their guard just because they have a strong security posture. This is because cyberthreats evolve as cybersecurity improves.
Cyberthreats are constantly growing in number and becoming more sophisticated to compensate for security patches and upgrades. As a result, we tend to see changes in the threat landscape from year to year. So, what are the biggest security threats businesses are facing this year?
When it comes to network protection, we often end up focusing on things like phishing scams, ransomware, and computer viruses. These issues are indeed important to pay attention to, however, there’s something else that companies need to guard against. One of the most preeminent emerging threats of this year are firmware attacks, and they’re becoming increasingly common.
Up to 83% of businesses have experienced a firmware attack in the last two years as stated in Microsoft’s Security Signals Report. Also according to Microsoft, most businesses only allocate 29% of their security budget to firmware security. Stick these two facts together and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
You may have heard of firmware here and there, but what is it and what does it do? Firmware is a small piece of software that makes your device work the way the manufacturer intended it to work. Think of it as being the code that makes your hardware tick. Without it, your hardware would become brick-like, unable to do anything but sit there.
For simple technology, like a washing machine, firmware essentially acts as the machine’s operating system and controls all of its functions. With something more sophisticated, like a computer motherboard, firmware plays a less critical role, but still important. A firmware-less motherboard may result in something like your computer being unable to recognize its hard drive.
Although the method of attack is similar—cybercriminals searching for and finding exploitable vulnerabilities—firmware attacks differ from more well-known types of attacks. This threat is especially dangerous because hackers can sidestep standard antivirus software. Done by pushing malicious code to the lower levels of your device, a firmware attack can compromise your device before it’s even turned on.
What’s even more troubling is there are a variety of ways hackers can deliver the code. The most popular vectors for infection include infected USBs, corrupted drives, and bad firmware products. However, this can also be done remotely through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or any other form of connectivity.
Firmware is a constant in computing, but has only recently been in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. The interest in firmware as a target began with a series of high profile leaks between the years of 2013 and 2016. It was further inflamed by nationwide malware campaigns like WannaCry. Firmware allows a hacker to create a backdoor and evade detection, meaning their access to a system can persist for longer.
A firmware attack can lead to a variety of problems like unwanted intruders spying on your activity, mining data, remotely controlling your device, or even stealing your identity. That’s why you want to do everything you can to fight against firmware intrusion attempts. Here are a few steps you can follow to increase your firmware security.
- Update Your Firmware: Updates regularly contain fixes for known vulnerabilities. By keeping your firmware up to date, you ensure your system has the latest security measures.
- Avoid Untrustworthy USBs: As mentioned earlier, infected USBs are a common way hackers attack firmware. Only use USBs you can trust.
- Buy Built-in Protection: If you’re really concerned about firmware attacks, you can buy hardware that has built-in firmware security.
Net3 IT works with businesses throughout the Knoxville, TN, area to implement industry-leading cybersecurity solutions. With our managed security services, you can rest easy knowing your network is safe and secure.
Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Since 2012, Net3 IT has offered enterprise-level IT experience and industry knowledge to help Knoxville businesses make the right decisions. We are committed to our customers’ success by providing cost-effective, high-value IT services, VOIP phone services, and strategic consulting.