Cybersecurity and Silent Breaches

Unveiling the Hidden Dangers of Hardware Vulnerabilities

As cyber threats evolve, the silent shadows of hardware vulnerabilities emerge as a new battleground in cybersecurity, demanding our immediate and undivided attention

The digital age has brought many innovations and solutions, but also a lot of new dangers.

In particular, the hardware that we use to work with turns out to be a principal source of these dangers.

This blog article will therefore, in continuation to the previous piece, take a closer look at the world of hardware vulnerabilities, a deadly threat that is quite silent in nature but can ever affect critical infrastructure systems as well as personal smartphones.

Hardware Vulnerabilities Are in Nature

Design flaws and faults that occur in the manufacturing of the physical components are often the cause of hardware vulnerabilities.

Software updates frequently address software bugs, whereas hardware problems often necessitate physical revisions or market recalls.

These are the weaknesses: simple design mistakes and the complex vulnerability of EMI or temperature fluctuations.

The George Washington University published a piece titled “Hardware and Security: Vulnerabilities and Solutions,” which delves into the distinct characteristics of hardware security in contrast to software, network, and data security.

The authors, Gedare Bloom, Eugen Leontie, Bhagirath Narahari, and Rahul Simha, provide valuable insights on this topic.

They emphasize the unique aspects of hardware security, which are influenced by the inherent characteristics of hardware.

Hardware design and manufacturing typically occur before or during software development. It is crucial to consider hardware security from the very beginning of the product life cycle.

It is important to highlight that the security of cyber-physical systems heavily relies on hardware. Indeed, it acts as the ultimate safeguard against potential harm.

If someone gains control of the hardware, any software security measures that are in place could become useless. Hardware generally has a longer lifespan when compared to software.

Once the hardware is deployed, updating it becomes a challenging task that often requires a complete replacement. On the one hand, this technology makes upgrading simple by enabling remote loading of new code. Protecting against data theft and unauthorized access to software becomes crucial.

Hardware security is a basic element that embraces all stages of the cyber-physical system development process: the phases of design, functioning, and retirement, as well as after-life maintenance.

The rise of hardware-based attacks has made security implementations particularly challenging.

Cybercriminals have upped their game; rather than just targeting people, they go after networks and even the computers themselves at a very primitive level.

Recent research highlights that hardware targets have become attackers’ preferred targets in recent times; therefore, bolstering the various protocols of hardware security has been identified as an area of improvement.

So, apparently in 2022, these sneaky cyber criminals decided to go after those unpatched internet-facing systems. Yes, quite difficult to believe it, isn’t it?

The US Cyber Defence Agency says they were really on a roll this time, even more than those vulnerabilities they’ve been talking about. Crazy, right?

So, here’s the thing: there’s a bunch of code out there that exposes all sorts of software flaws and vulnerability chains.

And the worst part? Any old cyber bad guy can get their hands on it and start wreaking havoc.

Hence, here’s the deal: when it comes to software updates, those devious cyber criminals tend to wait around two years after the public finds out about any vulnerabilities before they pounce.

If we patch those vulnerabilities that we know can be exploited, it could really throw a wrench in the plans of those cyber bad guys.

They’ll have to come up with more expensive and time-consuming ways to carry out their attacks, like using zero-day exploits or messing with software supply chains.

Watch out for those cybercriminals who love to go after global CVE exploits.

Experienced players know how to create tools that can take advantage of other weaknesses, but finding and exploiting big, well-known vulnerabilities gives them powerful tools that are effective and affordable for a long time.

Be wary for those sly hackers who love to exploit vulnerabilities in your network.

When it comes to checking out suspicious web requests, deep packet inspection can uncover a bunch of red flags like CVE or CVE chain signatures.

These are indicators that the bad guys are trying to exploit vulnerabilities in your device.

Let’s have a look at the commonly exploited and used vulnerabilities.

  1. CVE is 2018-13379
  2. CVE-2021-31207 and 2021-34523
  3. CVE-2021-4053
  4. CVE-2021-26084
  5. CVE-2021-44228?
  6. CVE-2022-22960 and CVE-22954.
  7. CVE-2022-30190
  8. CVE-2022-26134

 (Courtesy: CISA)

Stay tuned for more updates on similar topics, in sequence.

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