Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2018 - 01:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: uefi, SPI, security, Intel, bios
The one part of your computer you still rely on to be safe are firmware updates to your UEFI, but of course there are also cases where this too can prove to be vulnerable. It seems there is a vulnerability in the way the the SPI flash is configured on on a variety of Intel CPUs stretching all the way back to Broadwell, straight through to the current chips. There is good news as a patch for this vulnerability has already been provided to PC and motherboard manufactures according to the information over at Bleeping Computer so check for BIOS updates over the next while. As this does stretch back to models which no longer receive regular updates, hopefully even those ancient devices will receive an update.
"According to Lenovo, who recently deployed the Intel fixes, "the configuration of the system firmware device (SPI flash) could allow an attacker to block BIOS/UEFI updates, or to selectively erase or corrupt portions of the firmware.""
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hackers Stole a Casino's High-Roller Database Through a Thermometer in the Lobby Fish Tank @ Slashdot
- Thousands of Android apps may be collecting children's data illegally @ The Inquirer
- Sophisticated APT surveillance malware comes to Google Play @ Ars Technica
- Google is testing 'self-destruct' function for Gmail @ The Inquirer
- Exposed: Lazy Android mobe makers couldn't care less about security @ The Register
- Apple's leaked memo warns leakers to stop leaking leaks @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2017 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, brix, uefi, ransomware
Be careful what you do with your BRIX as two rather unpleasant vulnerabilities were disclosed at a recent BlackHat event. Gigabyte did not implement two security features which these exploits take advantage of, there is no write protection on the UEFI firmware nor a system of cryptographic signatures on UEFI firmware files which can let any file update the UEFI. While the proof of concept demonstration only prevented the infected BRIX from booting again, this could also be used to infect your machines UEFI quietly and in a way extremely difficult to repair, you would need a UEFI update that wrote over every sector of the firmware to ensure you removed the bugs. Pop by Slashdot for more on this depressing topic.
"Last week, at the BlackHat Asia 2017 security conference, researchers from cyber-security firm Cylance disclosed two vulnerabilities in the firmware of Gigabyte BRIX small computing devices, which allow an attacker to write malicious content to the UEFI firmware."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A moment of Zen with David Kanter: The TR Podcast 190
- Microsoft Finally Reveals What Data Windows 10 Really Collects @ Slashdot
- How to Trick Your Electrical Meter By Saving Power @ Hack a Day
- Scientists develop self-healing material for smartphone displays and lithium-ion batteries @ The Inquirer
- Google's video recognition AI is trivially trollable @ The Register
- It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2016 - 01:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: KB3133977, microsoft, asus, uefi, Secure Boot
There are many good reasons to use the new UEFI Secure Boot under Windows 10 but there are also numerous reasons not to. The latest is an issue with a specific Windows Update patch which was recently changed from an optional update to a recommended update. For systems using an ASUS motherboard and running Windows 7 this can be a bit of a bother as your Secure Boot will report that the OS has unauthorized changes and will refuse to boot. If you can get at your UEFI BIOS you can change the OS Type from Windows UEFI mode to Other OS in the boot menu. If this does not resolve your issue The Register has been told you should contact ASUS for support, as opposed to Microsoft since the issues root cause lies in a feature similar to Secure boot which ASUS added to their boards.
"Windows 7 machines that have installed Microsoft's KB3133977 update may trigger a "secure boot violation" during startup, preventing the PC from loading the operating system, Asus said."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft: Windows 10 Will Remain Free For People With Accessibility Needs @ Slashdot
- 3D Printing Bone @ Hack a Day
- Acer to launch gaming smartphone in 4Q16, says paper @ DigiTimes
- IBM's POWER cloud powers up almost a year later than promised @ The Register
- A Look At NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080, GTX 1070 & New Technologies @ Techgage
- Doom (2016) running on GTX1080 @ Kitguru
- NVIDIA's GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Detailed @ Hardware Canucks
- Nvidia editors day event gallery featuring GTX1080 @ Kitguru
- AMD's Andrej Zdravkovic @ Kitguru
- TRENDnet TPL-421E2K Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit Review @ NikKTech
- Luxury all paid trip to see Independence Day 2 in London
Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2015 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: uefi, security
Yet another revelation has come from the Hacking Team leak, a UEFI based rootkit which can infect computers and will survive AV scans and even a drive replacement. The rootkit is designed specifically for the BIOS designed by Insyde which are found primarily in laptops; Dell and HP for example. TrendMicro suggested to The Register that this rootkit could also infect AMIBIOS designed UEFI, the type you are familiar with from desktop motherboards but that has not been confirmed. As well Trend Micro intimates that the rootkit could be installed remotely but so far the evidence suggests physical access is required ... as flashing a BIOS tends to do. Using UEFI SecureFlash, or even flashing to the newest version will also remove the kit, although depending on the solution your motherboard uses you may see error messages about updating an unexpected or corrupt previous version. Keep safe out there and maybe keep the Flash to your BIOS for now.
"Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Adobe: We REALLY are taking Flash security seriously – honest @ The Register
- Samsung Galaxy A8 launches with Snapdragon 615 chip and Android 5.1.1 Lollipop @ The Inquirer
- Google can now run your Windows Server installations for you @ The Inquirer
- Rackspace to resell and support Microsoft's Azure @ The Register
- How to Really Delete your Files @ Hardware Secrets
- Asus RT-AC3200 802.11ac Router @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 16, 2015 - 06:47 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: uefi, SSD 750, PCI-E 3.0, NVMe, Intel, ACHI, 750 series
UPDATE: ASUS has pointed us towards a poll they are running to gauge what platforms people are most anxious for NVMe Boot support on. So if you have an ASUS board and are interested in buying an Intel SSD 750 Series, head to their poll to voice your opinion!
Last week, the Intel 750 Series SSD was unveiled the the public as the first consumer SSD to feature the NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express interface. NVMe was designed from the ground up for flash storage, and provides significant advantages in latency and potential top transfer rates over the aging AHCI standard. Check out our review of the Intel SSD 750 Series to find out why this is such an important step forward for storage technology.
Even if you aren't necessarily concerned about the merits of a new storage interface, the throughput numbers from the 750 series are hard to ignore. With peak speeds over 2.5GB/s read and 1.5GB/s write, it's hard not to be interested in this new drive.
However, all this new speed doesn't come without a few complications. NVMe is an all-new standard which means it might not be supported on all platforms. Intel themselves only point to official support for Z97 and X99 chipsets. In order to get a better idea of the landscape of NVMe compatibility, I took it amongst myself to start testing the add-in card version of the 750 Series in just about every modern motherboard I could get my hands on at the office.
Subject: Processors | March 10, 2015 - 10:20 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: uefi, motherboards, lga 1150, Intel, Broadwell, bios, asus
ASUS has announced that all current Intel 9 Series motherboards will support the upcoming 5th-Generation Intel Broadwell LGA 1150 CPUs with an UEFI update.
We reported last week that Intel’s 5th-generation Broadwell CPU had been demonstrated at GDC using Intel’s Iris Pro graphics, though official details about the new LGA versions of Broadwell are not yet public. The desktop variants will no doubt use the same 14nm process technology of the current BGA parts, and it has been rumored that the new CPUs will initially launch in both Core i5 and i7 versions, with the potential for Core i3 and Pentium branded parts to follow (though any potential product information is mere speculation at this point).
It will be interesting to see if the upcoming LGA 5th-Generation CPUs will be able offer any higher perfomance for desktop users compared to existing Haswell parts (such as the i7-4790K), or if there will even be unlocked processors. Considering Broadwell is a mobile-focused part designed for efficency and lower power consumption the chips could offer a compelling solution for small form-factor computers such as HTPCs, as they will presumably provide lower heat and higher IPC than existing parts.
The UEFI updates will go live later today (some updates have already been released) and include all ASUS motherboard models with Z97 and H97 chipsets.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2013 - 02:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z87-GD65 GAMING, uefi, overclocking, msi, haswell, computex 2013, computex
MSI announced new Z87 motherboards today, ready to accept Intel's new 4 Generation Core "Haswell" processors. The new Z87 boards are broken up into the company's "GAMING" series and a new "Overclock" series. Both boards use Military Class IV components that are MIL-STD-810G rated.
The MSI Z87-GD65-GAMING is the company's latest motherboard aimed at PC gamers. It incorporates a Killer NIC and the company's Audio Boost technology. It also supports MSI technology such as V-Check points (to get voltage readings with multi meter), Super RAID, Multi-BIOS II, and Go2BIOS.
On its face, the Z87-GD65-GAMING features an Intel LGA 1150 CPU socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. Rear IO includes a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF audio outputs, one DVI port, one VGA port, one HDMI output, one Kill NIC-backed Gigabit LAN port, and six analog audio jacks.
The MSI Z87-GD65-GAMING motherboard is currently selling for around $189 at various online retailers. It has earned a Computex 2013 Best Choice Gold award as well as a positive review from PC Perspective's resident motherboard guru Morry Teitelman. You can find our full review of the gaming motherboard here.
MSI also announced three new motherboards under its Overclock series. These boards are intended for PC enthusiasts who like to tinker with hardware and push their chips (CPU and GPU) as far as possible. The new boards include the Z87 MPOWER, Z87 MPOWER MAX, and Z87 XPOWER.
The Overclock series motherboards also use Military Class components. They also feature MSI's latest Click BIOS 4 UEFI and Control Center software that allows monitory, tuning, and remote controlling of your PC. The MSI Overclock boards also have a tool that allows for automatic overclocking called OC Genie 4 that reportedly operates in two stages. The Z87 MPOWER has a 32-phase digital power system, supports DDR3-3000 memory, and supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire. The MPOWER MAX and XPOWER motherboards are OC (Overclock) Certified and supports MSI's Extreme Tuning Utility for overclocking within Windows.
Rear port layout is similar to the Z87-GD65-Gaming motherboard, except that the new MPOWER boards add a removable Intel Wi-Fi + Bluetooth card that adds 802.11g/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) technology. The highest-end Z87 MPOWER, the XPOWER board, also has additional USB 3.0 ports on the back panel.
You can find more information on the Z87 MPOWER motherboards on this MSI product page.
Also read: MSI Launches 17" GS70 Gaming Notebook @ PC Perspective.
Over the weekend, Gigabyte posted a new photo to its Facebook page that teased the interface of the company’s upcoming UEFI BIOS. The new UEFI DualBIOS interface features an orange and black theme with a black background, orange accents, and white text. From the preview photos of Gigabyte’s Z87 motherboards, the BIOS colors will match up nicely with the actual black and orange colored hardware.
The middle pane occupies the most space and brings all of your standard BIOS setup and overclocking settings front and center. Gigabyte has laid out the various settings into tabbed categories. Users can further customize a shortcut menu on the right-most tab. This settings pane is surrounded on all sides by various bars and columns with status information.
The top bar includes graphs on the system’s voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. The bottom bar displays system information such as the total amount of RAM installed, CPU and BIOS identification, and other information. On the left of the main settings panel is a column with readouts on the installed processor. The information it provides at a glance includes CPU voltage, frequency, temperature, and core ratio. It also lists the CPU fan speeds. Meanwhile, the column on the right-hand side of the display hosts temperature and fan speed information for the PCH, system/case sensor, and up to five case fans.
While some enthusiasts might balk at the orange, black, and white color scheme, in all it looks like a nice improvement. Most of the information is available at a glance, and the customizable shortcut menu is a useful feature.
You can find the original photo as well as several other preview photos on Gigabyte’s Facebook page.
What do you think about the new UEFI BIOS UI?
Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 1, 2013 - 12:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Secure Boot, uefi
Steven J Vaughan-Nichols of ZDNet published an update on the status of Secure Boot. Fans of Linux and other open-source operating systems have been outspoken against potential attempts by Microsoft to hinder the installation of free software. While the fear is not unfounded, the situation does not feel to be a house of cards in terms of severity.
Even without an immediate doomsday, there still is room for improvement.
The largest complaint is with Windows RT. If a manufacturer makes a device for Windows RT it will pretty much not run any other operating system. Vice versa, if an OEM does not load Windows RT on their device that PC will never have it. Windows on ARM is about as closed of a platform as you can get.
On the actual topic of Secure Boot, distributions of Linux have been able to sign properly as trusted. Unlike the downstream Fedora 18, Ubuntu 12.10, and others: the Linux Foundation is still awaiting a signed bootloader.
Other distributions will need to disable the boot encryption which many thought would forever be the only way to precede. While not worse than what we have been used to without Secure Boot, disabling boot encryption leaves Linux at a disadvantage for preventing rootkits. Somewhat ironic, we are stuck between the fear of being locked out of our device by a single entity and the fear of malice intentions not being locked out.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Gigabyte
PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.