Malware's Potential Next Target: Hardware

By Sue Poremba | Nov 18, 2010 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netsecur/malwares-potential-next-target-hardware
For years, the target for malware has been software and operating systems. 

Now, according to an article in Security Dark Reading, malware appears to have a new target: hardware. Apparently, French researchers have found that it is possible to write code specifically geared for processors.  The article stated:

Anthony Desnos, Robert Erra, and Eric Filiol, of Ecole Superieure d'Informatique Electronique Automatique (ESIEA) in Paris, have developed a proof-of-concept for hardware-specific malware, which they consider a step up from Stuxnet and a potentially key weapon in cyberwarfare. The malware can easily identify and target specific hardware systems based on the on-board processor chip, the researchers say.

The good news (I guess) is that while attacking the hardware is possible, it isn't easy.  According to an article at The Inquirer:

However this technique isn't quite as fine-grained yet as malware attackers might want. The researchers admit that their identification techniques cannot pin-point particular processors, however they say that such an attack could "enable far more precise and targeted attacks, at a finer level in a large network of heterogeneous machines but with generic malware".

It's a situation that we'll definitely have to keep an eye on.