ATM machines and firmware security

An article from the ATM industry on BIOS:

ATM malware attacks: Head them off at the BIOS
May 19, 2017 | by Suzanne Cluckey

[…][Our concern] as a control company is making sure that the network vulnerabilities are sealed up … we continue to see attacks on the BIOS. Finding a toolset that allows you to change the password, change the settings and secure the BIOS of those machines is important to a lot of those customers.[…]




Dell Inspiron 20-3052 BIOS update concerns

If you have this Dell, be careful about the current update, multiple users have the problem. Quoting the Register article:

As one forum wag noted: “Some send out ‘WannaCry’, others send out BIOS upgrades”.




PS: These are nice references from Dell’s support wiki:





Intel NUC SMM exploit

Intel® Branded NUC’s Vulnerable to SMM exploit
Intel ID:      INTEL-SA-00068
Product family:      Intel® NUC Kits
Impact of vulnerability:      Elevation of Privilege
Severity rating:      Important
Original release:      May 02, 2017
Last revised:      May 02, 2017

Intel is releasing updated BIOS firmware for a privilege escalation issue. This issue affects Intel® NUC Kits listed in the Model Number section below. The issue identified is a method that enables malicious code to gain access to System Management Mode (SMM). A malicious attacker with local administrative access can leverage vulnerable BIOS to execute arbitrary code outside of SMRAM while system is running in System management mode (SMM), potentially compromising the platform. Intel products that are listed below should apply the update. Intel highly recommends updating the BIOS of all Intel® NUC’s to the recommended BIOS or later listed in the table of affected products. Intel would like to thank Security Researcher Dmytro Oleksiuk for discovering and reporting this issue.



Microsoft MDT: moving from BIOS to UEFI

If you have a Windows box and are trying to convert MBR/BIOS installs to GPT/UEFI installs on ‘class 2’ systems, you might want to read this:





“MBR2GPT.EXE converts a disk from Master Boot Record (MBR) to GUID Partition Table (GPT) partition style without modifying or deleting data on the disk. The tool is designed to be run from a Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) command prompt, but can also be run from the full Windows 10 operating system (OS).[…]”






OEMs/IBVs aren’t enabling ECC config in boot menus

It looks like most vendors don’t have their boot menus updated to support the new ECC memory they now support…

[…]Once you have an ECC-enabled memory controller, a motherboard with the right traces, and a few sticks of ECC memory, the next step is whether the BIOS/UEFI properly supports ECC. This is where things start getting a little bit iffy. AMD placed all the responsibility for ECC support on the motherboard manufacturers, and they aren’t really willing to step up to the plate and assume that responsibility…you will find out why in the conclusion. As a result, while most motherboard manufacturers have now come to acknowledge that their motherboards are indeed ECC enabled, that is the extent of their involvement. Not one is offering an enable/disable option in the UEFI, and we haven’t seen anyone but ASRock and ASUS have any ECC settings available at the moment.

This lack of settings severely hampers the overall ECC functionality, since a big part of it is that the motherboard should be able to log errors. Right now, no such logging capability exists. Thankfully, there is a possible software solution. The operating system – if it fully supports this new AM4 platform – should have the ability to log errors and corrections. If it does not, the hardware might be silently correcting single-bit errors and even detecting ‘catastrophic’ two-bit errors, but you will never know about it since there will be no log. That’s what we are going to look into next.

To conclude this page, we strongly suspect that just about every AM4 motherboard likely has ECC enabled, or at the very least will in the future. Most motherboard manufacturers certainly aren’t actively supporting it, or even unlocking any of the features that accompany it, but they don’t appear to be maliciously disabling it either. At this point in time, they simply have other way more important things on their plate, like improving memory support, overclocking, ensuring that IOMMU is functional, etc. Furthermore, we strongly suspect that they are presently unable to unlock all of the necessary settings without a newer CPU microcode from AMD.