Meet “badBIOS,” the mysterious Mac/PC malware that jumps airgaps

I love writing about science fiction-y ideas, and I of course love computers and networking. I happened across this story today on Ars Technica, and could not stop reading. The writer part of my brain lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids after being blown up in a Michael Bay movie trailer. The nerdy part of my brain that still pays attention to high tech shuddered, as this is part of our technological future.

“Three years ago, security consultant Dragos Ruiu was in his lab when he noticed something highly unusual: his MacBook Air, on which he had just installed a fresh copy of OS X, spontaneously updated the firmware that helps it boot. Stranger still, when Ruiu then tried to boot the machine off a CD ROM, it refused. He also found that the machine could delete data and undo configuration changes with no prompting. He didn’t know it then, but that odd firmware update would become a high-stakes malware mystery that would consume most of his waking hours.

In the following months, Ruiu observed more odd phenomena that seemed straight out of a science-fiction thriller. A computer running the Open BSD operating system also began to modify its settings and delete its data without explanation or prompting. His network transmitted data specific to the Internet’s next-generation IPv6 networking protocol, even from computers that were supposed to have IPv6 completely disabled. Strangest of all was the ability of infected machines to transmit small amounts of network data with other infected machines even when their power cords and Ethernet cables were unplugged and their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards were removed. Further investigation soon showed that the list of affected operating systems also included multiple variants of Windows and Linux.”

Read the entire article at Ars Technica