SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work

By Shannon Williams
Thu 30 Jun 2022

Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research released by HP from HP Wolf Security.

According to the research, as business workforces become increasingly distributed, IT leaders say its harder than ever to defend against firmware attacks.

The shift to hybrid work models has transformed how organisations manage endpoint security, while also highlighting new challenges for IT teams around securing device firmware. 

The HP Wolf Security global survey of 1,100 IT leaders reveals that:

The threat of firmware attacks is a growing concern for IT leaders now that hybrid workers are connecting from home networks more frequently
With hybrid or remote work now the norm for many employees there is a greater risk of working on potentially unsecure home networks meaning that the level of threat posed by firmware attacks has risen. More than eight-in-ten (83%) IT leaders say firmware attacks against laptops and PCs now pose a significant threat, while 76% of ITDMs said firmware attacks against printers pose a significant threat.

Managing firmware security is becoming harder and taking longer in the era of hybrid work, leaving organisations exposed
More than two-thirds (67%) of IT leaders say protecting against, detecting, and recovering from firmware attacks has become more difficult and time-consuming due to the increase in home working, with 64% saying the same of analysing the security of firmware configuration. As a result, 80% of IT leaders are worried about their capacity to respond to endpoint firmware attacks.

"Firmware attacks are very disruptive and much harder to detect or remediate than your typical malware often requiring expert and even manual intervention to fix," says Dr. Ian Pratt, global head of security for personal systems at HP Inc. 

"This increases the cost and complexity of remediation considerably, particularly in hybrid environments where devices are not on site for IT teams to access," he says. 

"Having more endpoints sitting outside of the protection of the corporate network also reduces visibility and increases exposure to attacks coming in via unsecured networks.

"At the same time, we are seeing a rise in destructive attacks such as wiper malware," says Pratt. 

"Last year, our research team saw attackers conducting reconnaissance on firmware configurations, with the likely intent of exploiting unsecured configurations to weaponise for financial gain. 

"Once an attacker has gained control over the firmware configuration, they can exploit their position to gain persistence and hide from anti-malware solutions that live in the Operating System," he says.

"This gives them an advantage, allowing them to stealthily maintain persistence on target devices, so they can gain access to infrastructure across the enterprise and maximise their impact."

Despite the clear risks that firmware attacks pose to organisations, device security is not always a major consideration in the hardware procurement process, with many organisations continuing to use technologies that are not built with security in mind. 

This issue is being exacerbated by the new shadow IT whereby employees are purchasing and connecting devices outside of IT purview while working remotely. HP Wolf Security's Out of Mind and Out of Sight report found that 68% of office workers that purchased devices to support remote work said security wasn't a major consideration in their purchasing decision. Furthermore, 43% didn't have their new laptop or PC checked or installed by IT or security.

Boris Balacheff, chief technologist for security research and innovation at HP Labs, says security must become part of the procurement process when purchasing new IT devices. 

"Organisations need to play the long game, because the devices you procure today will be the environment you have to manage and protect tomorrow," he says. 

"State-of-the-art device security delivers protection for firmware against malware as well as physical tampering, with detection both below and above the OS and autonomous self-healing recovery from the hardware up but this will only help address the issue for organisations that know to ask the right questions when they procure new devices."

HP warns that one of the key issues that businesses face is that many organisations are still reliant on legacy devices that were built to older industry standards, where design for manageable security and resilience at scale was not a focus for hardware and firmware design. This is leaving a gap in enterprise security that could take years to close.

Balacheff says, "As attackers continue to invest in the capability to attack and disrupt PCs and other OT and IoT devices at the firmware level, organisations also need to learn how to monitor the state of the art in device security to keep updating procurement security requirements accordingly. 

"This is what will enable leading organisations to stay ahead of emerging threats and protect, detect and remediate firmware attacks at scale in the era of hybrid work."

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
InternetNZ
How well do rangatahi understand cyber safety in Aotearoa?
Do rangatahi in Aotearoa understand the importance of being safe online, or has lifelong exposure to the internet resulted in widespread complacency?
Story image
Data Protection
Zero Trust, but verify - finding the OT in ZerO Trust
The move to remote and cloud-based technologies has shifted the goalposts for cybersecurity. It now needs to cover multiple people, devices, platforms, and networks.
Story image
Cloud Security
Tenable makes additions to Cloud Security portfolio
Tenable has announced additions to Tenable Cloud Security that represent the next step in assessing threats related to cloud vulnerabilities.
Story image
Microsoft
Avast reveals zero-day exploits targeting Chrome and Microsoft
Avast, released its Q2/2022 Threat Report today, revealing a significant increase in global ransomware attacks, up 24% from Q1/2022.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Education sector seeing highest volumes of cyber attacks
When breaking down the numbers to education attacks by region in July 2022, A/NZ was the most heavily attacked.
Story image
SaaS
Cloud and data protection big challenges for NZ businesses
"This surge towards a cloud-first approach meant security and safety became afterthoughts - there's no point being the fastest car on the racetrack if you crash.”
Story image
VMware
Latest VMware threat report reveals truth about deepfakes
"Cyber criminals have evolved. Their new goal is to use deepfake technology to compromise organisations and gain access to their environment."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Datacom research explores reality of zero trust in A/NZ
Zero trust is fast emerging as global best practice in cybersecurity and local leaders are on board, with 83% considering it essential to security.
Story image
Firewall
Fortinet unveils compact firewall for hyperscale data centres, 5G networks
"Fortinet’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in security performance has yielded the most powerful compact firewall yet."
Story image
Surveillance
Ministry will no longer accept equipment from Chinese firm Hikvision
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says it will no longer accept equipment from a major Chinese surveillance camera maker.
Story image
Compliance
Why security needs to shape your journey to the cloud
It's estimated that 80% of workloads could be in the cloud in the next few years. How can you make all that data secure?
Story image
Malware
Research shows attacks on the gaming industry are getting worse
Web application attacks in the gaming sector have grown by 167% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, according to new research from Akamai.
Story image
Privileged Access Management / PAM
The importance of stopping identity sprawl for cybersecurity
The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) shows that 61% of all breaches involve malicious actors gaining unauthorised, privileged access to data by using a compromised credential. Unfortunately, it is often too late when the misuse of a credential is detected.
Story image
Web application firewall
Radware recognised in KuppingerCole’s 2022 Leadership Compass report
Radware has been named a Product, Innovation, Market and Overall Leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Web Application Firewalls.
Story image
Data Protection
VMware introduces advanced workload protection for AWS
VMware Carbon Black Workload for AWS delivers comprehensive visibility and security across on-premises and cloud environments for AWS customers.
Story image
IDC
High level of Customer Identity & Access Management adoption
The study from Okta revealed that the pandemic has either accelerated or highlighted the need for digital-first strategies.
Story image
Gaming
Attacks on gaming companies more than double over past year
The State of the Internet report shows gaming companies and gamer accounts are at risk, following a surge in web application attacks post pandemic.
Story image
Data Protection
CyberRes partners with Google Cloud in lead up to BigQuery release
CyberRes, a Micro Focus line of business, has announced a partnership with Google Cloud to support the upcoming release of BigQuery remote functions.
Story image
Phishing
Norton research finds NZ threat landscape diversifying on social media
Norton's quarterly report has highlighted the seriousness of the threat landscape in New Zealand.
Story image
Indusface
Why enhancing bot protection for web and API endpoints matters
The trouble with bots is that they aren’t all bad. Unfortunately, this can make it challenging to detect malicious bots that find their way into your system and threaten your business.
Story image
Dicker Data
Dicker Data brought on as Acronis partner for A/NZ
The news about the partnership comes in as cyber criminals continue to exploit gaps in traditional solutions and strategies in NZ and across the APAC region.
Story image
Open source
Flashpoint acquires Echosec Systems, elevates OSINT capabilities
Flashpoint has acquired Echosec Systems, a provider of open-source intelligence and publicly available information.
Story image
Ransomware
Ivanti and SentinelOne partner on patch management solution
Ivanti and SentinelOne will integrate their technologies Ivanti Neurons for Patch Management and SentinelOne's Singularity XDR platform.
Story image
Sustainability
NZ program recovers and recycles more than 177 tonnes of e-waste
The TechCollect NZ pilot program says its milestone of recovering and recycling more than 177 tonnes of ICT e-waste recognises the efforts of many.
Story image
Gartner
Veeam named Leader in enterprise backup and recovery
"We believe our innovation and ability to execute validates our solid standing as the #1 trusted provider of modern data protection."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Exclusive: NZ-based DEFEND offers global cyber protection
DEFEND supports customers in 66 countries across the globe with a relentless focus on ensuring that every dollar spent on security provides a meaningful return on investment and reduces cyber risk.
Story image
Google Cloud
Google Cloud to open first cloud region in NZ - among others
Google Cloud has announced plans to bring three new cloud regions, one each in New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
Netskope acquires Infiot, delivers integrated SASE platform
Converged SASE platform provides AI-driven zero trust security and simplified, optimised connectivity to any network location or device, including IoT.
Story image
Dark web
Beware the darkverse and its cyber-physical threats
A darkverse of criminality hidden from law enforcement could quickly evolve to fuel a new industry of metaverse-related cybercrime.
Story image
SaaS
Claroty launches new cloud-based industrial cybersecurity platform
The company says Claroty xDome is the industry's first solution to deliver the ease and scalability of SaaS without compromising on visibility, protection, and monitoring controls.
Story image
Government
Mandiant researchers uncover significant new disinformation campaign
Researchers from Mandiant say they have uncovered a significant disinformation campaign from the Chinese Government in the wake of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
Story image
ExtraHop
Organisations exposing highly sensitive protocols to public internet
More than 60% of organisations expose remote control protocol SSH to the public internet, while 36% of organisations expose the insecure FTP protocol.
Story image
Machine learning
Sysdig releases CDR offering to combat cryptojacking
Sysdig has unveiled a cloud detection and response (CDR) offering powered by machine learning to combat cryptojacking.
Story image
Neat
Workplace design a crucial factor for better employee experience - report
The key to a successful workplace could be its design, according to research from Ecosystm and Neat.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks responds to rise in threats with MDR service
Unit 42 Managed Detection and Response is a new service that can offer continuous 24/7 threat detection, investigation and response.
Story image
Data Protection
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Alexey Pinchuk joins us today to discuss the role the company plays in helping organisations manage risk and provide better security outcomes.
Story image
Gartner Magic Quadrant
Gartner names Lookout a Visionary in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Gartner has recognised Lookout as a Visionary in the 2022 Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge (SSE) and one of the top three offerings in the 2022 Gartner Critical Capabilities for SSE report.
AWS Marketplace
Learn how security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) enhances your security strategy.
Link image
Story image
Rubrik
Gartner names Rubrik Leader in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Rubrik has been positioned by Gartner as a Leader in the 2022 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions.
Story image
Malware
Avast One extends protection with Online Safety Score
Avast One has extended its cross-platform support by adding its Online Safety Score feature to both the Mac and iOS platforms of Avast One.
Story image
Gartner Magic Quadrant
Gartner positions Commvault as Leader in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Gartner has named Commvault a Leader in its 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions report.