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The recent explosion in technology has enabled multiple businesses to succeed in a big way. Unfortunately, bad actors tend to use technology as a tool to further their own un-ethical agendas and commit crimes.

Due to this, multiple organizations have reported that they are facing an uphill battle to shield their IT infrastructures against destructive firmware attacks.

There is a considerable change in the landscape of today’s work trends. The firmware security dynamics are rapidly changing, owing to the distributed workforce.

Firmware is a programming software, written to the hardware’s non-volatile memory, which operates on its own, without the Application Programming Interface (API), Operating System (OS) or Device Drivers. End users cannot easily delete firmware from their devices, unless they use special programs.

Firmware guides a device about the execution of its tasks and further communications with other devices.

According to a poll, 1,100 IT leaders have confirmed that 83% of the firmware attacks against PCs and laptops pose a significant threat. Another 76% of attacks against printers are also considered a major threat.

During the same poll, it was discovered that it is now becoming increasingly difficult and time consuming to effectively manage firmware. The process of protection, detection and recovery from firmware attacks is becoming really tough, and this is creating security gaps within the IT infrastructures of enterprises.

It has further been reported that Work from Home (WFH) and hybrid work structures have made it harder to recover from cyber attacks, especially the ones that are targeting firmware.

About four in five, or 80% IT leaders have shown increased concerns about their ability to respond to present day firmware attacks.

Unfortunately, till date, device security is not a priority for many organizations. Numerous enterprises are still using devices that lack the baked-in security measures.

Today, one major problem with the remote based work model is that many employees use shadow IT. It involves the utilization of applications, IT resources and devices that were not explicitly approved by the IT department of their organization.

68% of the employees working remotely, admitted that security was not their top-most concern, while purchasing work related devices.

43% of these remote-based workers did not get explicit approval from the IT department to set up their new devices. These are some really alarming statistics, considering the damages that can be caused by this casual attitude.

HP’s Global Head of Security for Personal Systems, Dr. Ian Pratt, is of the opinion that firmware attacks can be very damaging because of their difficult detection and remediation. The traditional malware, on the other hand, is relatively easier to detect.

The complex nature of firmware attacks makes the remediation time and cost effect really high. This is particularly the case when we are dealing with hybrid environments, as the in-house IT teams cannot easily access the endpoint devices of their distributed workforce.

This also reduces an organization’s visibility, and consequently the cybersecurity threat and performance in-efficiencies get harder to detect.

Another factor to consider is that the remote-based endpoint devices work outside the protected corporate network walls. This increases the attack surface for cyber criminals, and exposes un-secured endpoint devices and networks to a host of cyber threats.

Cloud-based security solutions, like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), can be utilized to eradicate, or at least effectively manage these cybersecurity menaces.

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