NSA – A bios malware can remotely destroy any US system

Pierluigi Paganini December 17, 2013

During a CBS Interview show “60 Minutes”, The NSA Director General Alexander and the Information Assurance Director Plunkett  claimed a foreign government has developed a BIOS based malware that can remotely destroy any computer.

Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have revealed to CBS American television newsmagazine “60 Minutes” that a foreign government has tried to infect US systems with a BIOS-based malware that is able to destroy remotely any PC.

The program was attended by the NSA Director General Keith Alexander and the Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett to comment on the revelation made by Snowden on the surveillance program.


A foreign country developed BIOS malware disguised as a request for a software update that would have destroyed any PC.

“This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would’ve infected the computer.” “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.” said Alexander.

“The NSA working with computer manufacturers was able to close this vulnerability”  “One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver, to actually use this capability to destroy computers,” Plunkett said.

The US Government representatives referred as attack methods spear phishing attacks and social engineering, the news is eclatant and confirms the intense activities of foreign government in the fifth domain of warfare, the cyber space. The officials refers of a computer malware able to wipe out a computer and despite there is no explicit indication of the authors many experts immediately have thought of China as a possible culprit for the design of the malicious agent.

On the other hand, a large portion of the opposite opinion is composed of cyber experts who believe the Alexander’argumentation baseless, according them the affirmations have been issued only to provide a justification for the inconceivable surveillance operated by the U.S. government.

NSA Director General Keith Alexander tried to defend US surveillance programs sustaining that his agency NSA is currently listening to “Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. Persons”, in reality its operations are more oriented to metadata analysis instead massive snooping and for this reason it is an error to consider NSA activities as intrusive.

Alexander explicitly refers the period before 9/11 in which the US agency lacked the capability to analyze multiple source metadata, probably the ability would help the intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks.

The interview has rekindled the controversy about the surveillance programs, the image that was given is that NSA has done all the best to protect homeland security.

I personally think the plausible existence of such malware, it would not be new, but the appearance of members of the government has not convinced me in the exposition and content offered to the public.
What do you think about?

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  NSA, malware)

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