This is a weird story: researchers have discovered that an audio driver installed in some HP laptops includes a keylogger, which records all keystrokes to a local file. There seems to be nothing malicious about this, but it’s a vivid illustration of how hard it is to secure a modern computer. The operating system, drivers, processes, application software, and everything else is so complicated that it’s pretty much impossible to lock down every aspect of it. So many things are eavesdropping on different aspects of the computer’s operation, collecting personal data as they do so. If an attacker can get to the computer when the drive is unencrypted, he gets access to all sorts of information streams — and there’s often nothing the computer’s owner can do.
Entries Tagged "HP"
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(TS//SI//REL) IRONCHEF provides access persistence to target systems by exploiting the motherboard BIOS and utilizing System Management Mode (SMM) to communicate with a hardware implant that provides two-way RF communication.
(TS//SI//REL) This technique supports the HP Proliant 380DL G5 server, onto which a hardware implant has been installed that communicates over the I2C Interface (WAGONBED).
(TS//SI//REL) Through interdiction, IRONCHEF, a software CNE implant and the hardware implant are installed onto the system. If the software CNE implant is removed from the target machine, IRONCHEF is used to access the machine, determine the reason for removal of the software, and then reinstall the software from a listening post to the target system.
Status: Ready for Immediate Delivery
Unit Cost: $0
“CNE” stands for Computer Network Exfiltration. “Through interdiction” presumably means that the NSA has to physically intercept the computer while in transit to insert the hardware/software implant.
In the comments, feel free to discuss how the exploit works, how we might detect it, how it has probably been improved since the catalog entry in 2008, and so on.
The plan is to post one of these a day for the next couple of months.
It’s the kind of research result that screams hype, but online attacks that have physical-world consequences are fundamentally a different sort of threat. I suspect we’ll learn more about what’s actually possible in the coming weeks.
HP has issued a rebuttal.
This is cool technology from HP:
Each printer with the ePrint capability will be assigned its own e-mail address. If someone wants to print a document from an iPhone, the document will go to HP’s data center, where it is rendered into the correct format, and then sent to the person’s printer. The process takes about 25 seconds.
Maybe this feature was designed with robust security, but I’m not betting on it. The first people to hack the system will certainly be spammers. (For years I’ve gotten more spam on my fax machine than legitimate faxes.) And why would HP fix the spam problem when it will just enable them to sell overpriced ink cartridges faster?
Any other illegitimate uses for this technology?
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.