USB malware to render devices 'untrustable'

BadUSB project will show how undetectable malware can be injected into firmware of USB controllers

USB stick

Security researchers plan to show how USB devices can be reprogrammed with untraceable malware at the latest BlackHat Security conference in Las Vegas next week.

The project, dubbed BadUSB', was the brain child of security researchers at SR Labs, Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell. They developed the malware after reverse engineering firmware used to control the movement of data in USB sticks.

BadUSB malware works by reprogramming a USB device, not just storing the malware within the memory. It can be set up to emulate a keyboard, steal data, spoof network cards and even install viruses prior to booting. 

Worryingly, the researchers claim their malware is not restricted to memory sticks. It could be modified to infiltrate any USB-connected device. A popular target could include smartphones, which are regularly connected to PCs for data transfer and charging purposes.

The researchers claim there is no way to detect their malicious BadUSB code because it is buried within the firmware. Security software will not pick up malware as they don't scan the firmware when looking for malicious code.

"To make matters worse, cleanup after an incident is hard: Simply reinstalling the operating system the standard response to otherwise ineradicable malware does not address BadUSB infections at their root," it was noted in an SR Labs blog post.

"Once infected, computers and their USB peripherals can never be trusted again."

Featured Resources

Become a digital service provider

How to transform your business from network core to edge

Download now

Optimal business results with the cloud

Evaluating the best approaches to hybrid cloud adoption

Download now

Virtualisation that enables choices, not compromises

Harness the virtualisation technology that's right for your hybrid infrastructure

Download now

Email security threat report 2020

Four key trends from spear fishing to credentials theft

Download now

Recommended

How LogPoint uses MITRE ATT&CK
Whitepaper

How LogPoint uses MITRE ATT&CK

15 Jan 2021
Weekly threat roundup: Microsoft Defender, Adobe, Mimecast
vulnerability

Weekly threat roundup: Microsoft Defender, Adobe, Mimecast

14 Jan 2021
Mimecast admits hackers accessed users’ Microsoft accounts
Security

Mimecast admits hackers accessed users’ Microsoft accounts

13 Jan 2021
What is public key infrastructure (PKI)?
Security

What is public key infrastructure (PKI)?

12 Jan 2021

Most Popular

What is a 502 bad gateway and how do you fix it?
web hosting

What is a 502 bad gateway and how do you fix it?

12 Jan 2021
150,000 arrest records accidentally deleted from police database
data management

150,000 arrest records accidentally deleted from police database

15 Jan 2021
Can Pat Gelsinger get Intel back on track?
chief executive officer (CEO)

Can Pat Gelsinger get Intel back on track?

13 Jan 2021