If your company is using computers with outdated firmware, then you have a higher chance of a data breach. This is because failing to update your firmware exposes your business to major security risks.
What is firmware?
Firmware is a basic type of software that is in every piece of hardware. It controls the device it’s installed on and cannot be uninstalled or removed. It's only compatible with the make and model of the hardware it is installed on. Think of it like a translator between your stiff and unchanging hardware and your fluid and evolving software. For example, a remote control processes the button presses and sends data into a format the TV can understand.
Why is firmware security important?
To clearly explain the importance of firmware security, let’s use a router as an example.
When you buy a router and plug it in, its firmware allows it to connect devices to your wireless network. However, if the router manufacturer is outside of California, then they might still be using the same username and password for the same router model, if not for all router models. If you don't change these default settings, you could be a target for hackers.
Default usernames and passwords are in fact, an example of a known vulnerability that cybercriminals could exploit. Black hat hackers could use these to spy on you, steal or corrupt your data, or even damage your systems. Unfortunately, exploits are not rare occurrences. Not too long ago, a cybersecurity professional discovered that sending a 33-character text message to a router generated an SMS response that included the administrator username and password.
How do I protect myself?
The best way to defend yourself from firmware exploits is to immediately roll out updates from the device’s manufacturer. With that said, you need to keep in mind that every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating. For instance, if you have a D-Link router, typing “192.168.0.1” into a web browser will allow you to access its firmware and update process, assuming you have the username and password. If you’re unfamiliar with your router manufacturer’s procedures, you can type “[manufacturer name] router firmware update” on any search engine like Google.
But remember, routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cybersecurity posture. If you’re curious about what else we can do to help, give us a call today!