Will The New BIOS Replacement, UEFI, Make Computers Safer?

The inner workings of a computer are a mystery to most people.

They do not understand all of the inner machinations that go on inside of the machine and, even if you explain it to them, you still get the look of blank faces.

For a person to truly understand the machine they have to study for several years.

While it may seem like a dumb box there is a lot going on underneath the hood every time you touch the keyboard.

It is this reliance on the many components of the computer that makes securing the machine so hard.

With so many pieces working with one another you have to worry about each one to have a truly 100% safe machine.

You have to deal with the software and the hardware.

And even the hardware has software that runs inside of it.

One example of this is the BIOS for the motherboard on the system.

The BIOS does a lot of things when it comes to the safe start up of the system and in this article I will talk about it and it’s soon to be replacement, UEFI.

So let’s get started by explaining what the BIOS is first.

will UEFI make computers more secure than the BIOS did?

will UEFI make computers more secure than the BIOS did?

What Does The BIOS Do?

The first thing that you have to remember is that your computer is dumb and it must be told what to do.

So, for that to happen, you must have instructions for it.

This is what the computer source code is, instructions for the computer.

The first instructions that the motherboard comes across is the BIOS; it is the first step to booting up the operating system.

The term BIOS stands for Basic input/output system.

When the BIOS starts up, it has one job to do alone and that job is to identify the hardware in the system that will get the computer running.

That means that it will look for the keyboard, the hard drive, the mouse, the monitor and then it allows you to start up the operating system.

That is why if you do not have some of those things plugged into the system you will likely hear a certain number of beeps.

Those beeps tell you that one of these pieces is missing.

After the operating system is booted up, the BIOS hands that information to it and then the BIOS’ job is done.

The thing about the BIOS is that it is very important to the operation of your computer.

This is why in the past there were attacks that were directed to the BIOS of your system.

When a BIOS first started to be installed on the system, it was firmware that could not be changed.

That changed in the 90’s and they started to have BIOS that could be rewritten (flashed) and that made for a more flexible machine.

There was a security problem with this though – because the firmware could be rewritten, that meant that a black hat hacker could change this information as well.

If they could change the information, they could ruin the user’s computer and the person would have to get a new motherboard because they downloaded the wrong software.

Now there are better protections in place and this is less of a problem now.

But this is a problem that could still happen and maybe with the UEFI, it will be permanently a problem of the past.

What Is The UEFI?

The UEFI is an organization with a mission to take the booting process out of the dark ages.

There have been many problems over the years with the boot up process and how it works so there is this organization out there that is trying to come up with something that is a lot better.

Right now, there is only a spec of what this new boot up process should be.

They are trying to make up working implementations now.

While the speed of the boot up is the main consideration of this new process, security is also one of the things that they are concerned about.

Luckily for the organization, they are able to see the mistakes of the past and they are able to improve upon them.

With these improvements they will be able to make a more secure spec.

The question right now is whether the new UEFI spec will be safer than the older BIOS spec.

I imagine that there may well be holes in the new spec as nothing is ever 100% secure but there is a good chance that the new spec will be a great deal safer than what we have now.

All they have to do is to make sure that they do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Do you think the switch to UEFI will help increase computer security?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. I am not sure about this.
    On one hand it would/should stop some problems, no BIOS no attacking them, it would eliminate some other problems also in regards to the BIOS.
    The other hand, how safe will it really be, an whats it going to cost the average user – this should mean a new type of motherboard shouldnt it.
    I really would like to see a lot more on this before it starts rolling out, which i am sure will not be any time soon.

    • It certainly poses a larger number of questions than it answers, no doubt about it.

      As for new motherboards, well, I don’t see that as a huge issue as they are part and parcel of the evolution of new processor technology anyway and the average user will just buy a new computer with a new style mobo in when the need arises.

Trackbacks

  1. […] First of all, the term UEFI stands for the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by backstopp, Mike Briercliffe, YO9FAH, SupportBritIT, VectorEMEA and others. VectorEMEA said: RT @fsecureukteam: Will The New BIOS Replacement, UEFI, Make Computers Safer? http://bit.ly/a1VHWm via @Security_FAQs […]

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