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Gigabyte Motherboard Firmware Exposes Millions of PCs to Potential Cybersecurity Threats

In a potentially damaging cybersecurity revelation, researchers from the cybersecurity company Eclypsium have identified a hidden mechanism in the firmware of motherboards manufactured by Taiwanese company Gigabyte. The mechanism, primarily designed to update motherboard firmware, could reportedly be exploited by hackers due to its insecure implementation.

Invisible Updater Concerns: The researchers found that when a computer with an affected Gigabyte motherboard restarts, an updater program within the firmware invisibly initiates, subsequently downloading and executing another software piece. While intended to ensure firmware updates, the mechanism’s insecurity could potentially allow malware installation instead.

John Loucaides, who heads strategy and research at Eclypsium, raised concerns over the automated updates that take place without user involvement. He added that because the updater program is triggered from the computer’s firmware outside its operating system, it becomes challenging for users to detect or remove it.

Vulnerabilities Identified: According to Eclypsium, 271 Gigabyte motherboard models are potentially affected. The hidden firmware mechanism was discovered while the company was scanning customer computers for firmware-based malicious code, a tool increasingly used by sophisticated hackers. The updater mechanism’s characteristics were alarmingly similar to state-sponsored hacking tools, including its ability to hide in firmware and silently install programs that download code from the internet.

Security Risks Exposed: Gigabyte’s firmware update mechanism has been found to have serious vulnerabilities, such as downloading code without proper authentication and sometimes even over an unsecured HTTP connection. This could make it susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks. It could also be compromised on a local network, potentially allowing a malicious actor to install their own malware.

Eclypsium has been in contact with Gigabyte, which reportedly plans to fix the issues, but has yet to respond to media requests for comment. Considering the complexity of firmware updates and the millions of potentially affected devices, Loucaides fears the problem could persist on Gigabyte boards for years.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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