During a CBS Interview show “60 Minutes”, The NSA Director General Alexander and the Information Assurance Director Plunkett claimed a foreign government has developed a BIOS based malware that can remotely destroy any computer.
Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have revealed to CBS American television newsmagazine “60 Minutes” that a foreign government has tried to infect US systems with a BIOS-based malware that is able to destroy remotely any PC.
The program was attended by the NSA Director General Keith Alexander and the Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett to comment on the revelation made by Snowden on the surveillance program.
A foreign country developed BIOS malware disguised as a request for a software update that would have destroyed any PC.
“This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would’ve infected the computer.” “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.” said Alexander.
“The NSA working with computer manufacturers was able to close this vulnerability” “One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver, to actually use this capability to destroy computers,” Plunkett said.
The US Government representatives referred as attack methods spear phishing attacks and social engineering, the news is eclatant and confirms the intense activities of foreign government in the fifth domain of warfare, the cyber space. The officials refers of a computer malware able to wipe out a computer and despite there is no explicit indication of the authors many experts immediately have thought of China as a possible culprit for the design of the malicious agent.
On the other hand, a large portion of the opposite opinion is composed of cyber experts who believe the Alexander’argumentation baseless, according them the affirmations have been issued only to provide a justification for the inconceivable surveillance operated by the U.S. government.
NSA Director General Keith Alexander tried to defend US surveillance programs sustaining that his agency NSA is currently listening to “Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. Persons”, in reality its operations are more oriented to metadata analysis instead massive snooping and for this reason it is an error to consider NSA activities as intrusive.
Alexander explicitly refers the period before 9/11 in which the US agency lacked the capability to analyze multiple source metadata, probably the ability would help the intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks.
The interview has rekindled the controversy about the surveillance programs, the image that was given is that NSA has done all the best to protect homeland security.
I personally think the plausible existence of such malware, it would not be new, but the appearance of members of the government has not convinced me in the exposition and content offered to the public.
What do you think about?
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.