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In March at the Can Sec West security conference, held in Vancouver, researchers Alfredo Ortega and Anibal Sacco of Core Security Technologies Inc.
An attacker that compromised the BIOS in this fashion could execute code at every boot, and install a traditional rootkit on the system's hard drive.
Even if the hard drive was completely overwritten and re-installed, the BIOS malware could simply re-infect it again.
Early BIOS versions were stored in read-only memory and could not be altered by a user (or an attacker).
For enterprises that perform remote BIOS updates, configuring physical BIOS write-protection would be a big step backwards in terms of maintenance efficiency (although the effort involved in cleaning up after a BIOS infection might be greater).
Second, the emergence of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) standards and similar initiatives means that some new equipment supports hardware-based BIOS integrity checking.