Feeds

Indestructible, badass rootkit BadBIOS: Is this tech world's Loch Ness Monster? VOTE NOW

Amazing claims of MRSA-like super-malware scrutinised

Boost IT visibility and business value

Poll Well-known computer security researcher Dragos Ruiu claims to have been hit by seemingly invincible firmware-infecting malware.

Dubbed BadBIOS, the mysterious rootkit has split the infosec community after Ruiu said the software nasty can jump over air gaps, meddle with a number of different operating systems, and survive motherboard firmware rewrites.

The claims

Once installed and hidden away in the PC's BIOS storage area, the rootkit is supposedly capable of communicating between compromised machines by transmitting data encoded in ultrasonic sound emitted from the device's loudspeakers. Incredibly, nearby infected PCs can, it's alleged, pick up the signal from their microphones and decode the information. This is said to allow the malware to communicate between systems even if there is no other way to exchange information, such as over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or an Ethernet connection.

Ruiu reckons BadBIOS, which infiltrated his lab computers, can infect PCs regardless of whether they are running Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, or a flavour of BSD including OpenBSD. The rootkit supposedly infects USB sticks, reprograms their micro-controller firmware to hide itself, and injects itself into a sterile computer once the stick is plugged in.

Indeed, simply by plugging in an infected USB thumb drive, with no other action required, is supposedly enough to catch ‪BadBIOS‬. Canadian Ruiu claims he's been fighting against the terrifying strain for weeks, but nobody else has come across it. The malware can prevent a machine from booting from CD, can stop system administration software from working, and attempts to burn evidence of the nasty onto optical media is thwarted by the rootkit – which, we're told, can hook into classic BIOS, EFI, and UEFI firmware.

The rootkit's ultimate intentions, other than sending out encrypted IPv6 traffic, is not at all clear, it seems.

Ruiu, on Twitter as @dragosr, organises the annual popular Pwn2Own hacking contest at the CanSecWest conference. In response to a handful of questions on the social network, the security-bug researcher said helping to organise the upcoming PacSec event, due to take place in Tokyo in two weeks, is more important right now.

The security conference in Japan may bring much-needed hard information to light on the Abominable malware. Ruiu has suggested he is holding back on the details until patches for software bugs exploited by BadBIOS are made available.

The reaction

The infosec world raised a quizzical eyebrow to the rootkit claims, which has super-villain-like characteristics. Ruiu is a respected expert, but he has yet to release any data for independent corroboration.

Rob Graham of Errata Security has put together a detailed analysis of each element of the claims about ‪BadBIOS‬'s capabilities.

"Everything Dragos describes is plausible. It's not the mainstream of 'hacking', but neither is it 'nation state' level hacking," Graham noted.

An even more sceptical evaluation comes from industry veteran Paul Ducklin, writing on the Sophos Naked Security blog. "It's possible, of course, that this is an elaborate hoax, intended as a combined publicity exercise and social engineering experiment that will be wrapped up at PacSec," said Ducklin.

"If so, expect it to be aimed at outing anyone who jumped to detailed conclusions without having the details to go on!"

Now tell us what you think – vote below and comment away. ®

JavaScript Disabled

Please Enable JavaScript to use this feature.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?