Researchers uncover first active BIOS rootkit attack

September 14, 2011 – 9:01 PM

Researchers have discovered what is believed to be the first in-the-wild rootkit that targets BIOS, the built-in software responsible for booting up a computer and managing communication between the machine and its attached devices.

The discovery of Mebromi is notable not because any widespread infections are anticipated – the complexity of a successful attack on the motherboard is high – but because it appears to be the first malware written for the BIOS in at least four years, Webroot researcher Marco Giuliani, who studied the threat, said in a blog post Tuesday. The potent malware cocktail, consisting of a BIOS rootkit, an MBR (master boot record) rootkit, a kernel-mode rookit, a PE (portable executable) file infector and a trojan downloader, is designed to evade anti-virus detection.

Right now, the active attack exclusively is targeting Chinese users, Giuliani said. The trojan dropper is designed to first infect Award BIOS, manufactured by Phoenix Technologies. Once the BIOS is infected, the malicious code compromises the master boot record, a small program initiated when a computer starts up.


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