Meet 'Rakshasa,' The Malware Infection Designed To Be Undetectable And Incurable
Malicious software, like all software, gets smarter all the time. In recent years it’s learned to destroy physical infrastructure, install itself through Microsoft updates, and use human beings as physical “data mules,” for instance. But researcher Jonathan Brossard has innovated a uniquely nasty coding trick: A strain of malware that’s nearly impossible to disinfect.
At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas Thursday, Brossard plans to present a paper (PDF here) on “Rakshasa,” a piece of proof-of-concept malware that aims to be a “permanent backdoor” in a PC, one that’s very difficult to detect, and even harder to remove.
Like some other tenacious malware strains, Rakshasa infects the computer’s BIOS, the part of a computer’s memory that boots its operating system and initializes other system components. But it also takes advantage of a potentially vulnerable aspect of traditional computer architecture: Any peripheral like a network card, CD-ROM, or sound card can write to the computer’s RAM or to the small portions of memory allocated to any of the other peripherals. So Brossard has given Rakshasa, whose name comes from that of a mythological Indian demon, the ability to infect all of them. And if the BIOS or network card is disinfected, for instance, it can be reinfected from any one of the other compromised components.
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