Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/16/nsa_alleges_bios_plot_to_destroy_pcs/

NSA alleges 'BIOS plot to destroy PCs'

Un-named PC maker sought help to defeat un-named nation's PC-bricking plan

By Simon Sharwood

Posted in Security, 16th December 2013 03:13 GMT

Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have told US news magazine program “60 Minutes” that a foreign nation tried to infect computers with a BIOS-based virus that would have enabled them to be remotely destroyed.

NSA Director General Keith Alexander and Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett both appeared on the program in an attempt to defend the many unsettling domestic espionage programs revealed by Edward Snowden.

During the interview, the transcript of which can be found here, the pair made the following allegations:

The segment appears to have been far from a terrifying experience for the interviewees: the tone is that the NSA is a misunderstood entity doing its best to defend the USA against terrorism and worse. It therefore includes lots of soft stuff about the super-clever folks who work at the NSA and the cryptographic feats performed by its interns. There's also a quick primer on social engineering and how the bad guys use it to get the good guys clicking on bad things.

How much weight to give to “revelations” like the BIOS attack is therefore hard to assess. One thing seems certain: the NSA has decided it needs to play harder in the battle for hearts and minds in the USA and beyond. 60 Minutes seems to have decided to play along. ®