Friends in Low Places – Loading Firmware in the Field

A country song made famous by Garth Brooks in 1990 declares, “I got friends in low places,” noting that one can always rely on ordinary people to help a friend in need. BIOS software is the friend in the “low places” of clients and servers. It is software on which these systems rely to verify the soundness of the hardware and to transfer control to subsequent software. It has full access to the resources of a system, including memory, processors, coprocessors, and fans. What, then, if this software were to become irreparably modified, whether by mistake or malice? This paper addresses the problem of reliably updating such firmware in the field, after a device has left the secure confines of a manufacturing facility.

By: Elaine Palmer; Tamas Visegrady

Published in: RC25095 in 2011


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