What Is Hardware Hacking and Why Should You Care

Social hacking image

With the proliferation of IoT and embedded devices worldwide, hackers are increasingly turning to firmware exploitation as a more feasible method of getting access to networks and taking over equipment. Many of these devices lack security features out of the box, have backdoors that give simple shells, or have a variety of other flaws that make them an easy point of access into any network.

This article will work on developing your understanding of hardware hacking, in an effort to help you protect your home and workplace network and assets more effectively. Read on to find out more.

What is Hardware Hacking?

computer screen photo

The widely recognized definition of “hardware hacking” is the modification of existing electronics to utilize them in ways that were not necessarily intended. Even that term is ambiguous, since it may apply to any way of changing hardware, whether the enclosure, circuitry, or behavior.

Modifying a device’s enclosure is typically simple; drill a hole, cut a groove, and so on. However, hacking electronics and/or behavior is a difficult issue in and of itself. When it comes to hacking anything for a purpose for which it was not built, it can be difficult to know where to begin and what angle of attack to pursue.

So what is it really? Classical hardware hacking is a vast topic, but it typically focuses on altering a device in order to fix an issue with the device or its implementation. Modifications can range from as basic as altering an LED to as complicated as designing drop-in alternatives for factory boards.

Why Should You Care?

man in blue denim jacket facing turned on monitor photo
man in blue denim jacket facing turned on monitor photo

There are several facts that should help with understanding why it’s important to care about the security of and hence hacking of the hardware in and around your home or workplace. Now, this can have effects ranging from spying through your web cameras and home CCTV, all the way to interruption in your business and manufacturing processes. 

Every 39 seconds, one in every three Adults is subjected to a cyber attack. All companies must take preventative steps and think like the attackers penetrating their networks. Despite the fact that organizations all over the world are installing new cybersecurity technologies to combat these persistent attackers, hackers are working around the clock to develop new ways to circumvent these measures and corrupt software and hardware.

With that knowledge at hand, let’s now go through a fact that has made hardware hacking more prevalent in this day and age.

Remote Access

white mug beside laptop photo
white mug beside laptop photo

Attackers have always gone for the low-hanging fruit, the easiest point of entry, whether it’s on a weapon system, a laptop, or a car. Through the supply chain, insider threats, system upgrades, firmware updates, and hardware faults circumvent software and attack hardware.

Hardware has always been fundamentally trusted, which means that hardware design does not necessarily contain security measures and instead relies on higher-level software to offer protection. Unfortunately, if a company is the victim of a hardware assault, it can be difficult to identify because the payloads frequently sit quietly and wait for the optimum time to spring into action.

To place in more business/manufacturing relative terms, if hackers attack your hot runner systems, the output of the injection molding process is no longer under your control. This is irrespective of whatever their motivation is.

Possible Mitigation Tactics

closeup photo of round gray combination padlock photo
closeup photo of round gray combination padlock photo

Since hardware hacks are so difficult to identify and counteract, companies must do all necessary to prevent them.

Hardware Verification

The first task is to ensure that hardware verification is prioritized. Because hackers may impersonate administrators once they have access, a Zero Trust architecture is required. A Zero Trust method employs hardware root-of-trust solutions to impose sophisticated security technologies in commercial systems in such a way that they cannot be deactivated or circumvented, even by insiders or attackers with administrator privileges on the system.

Regular and Verified Software, Hardware, and Firmware Updates

Software updates, as well as hardware/firmware upgrades, are critical components of a good security posture. To handle emerging threats, critical security updates should be implemented as quickly as feasible.

Even throughout this process, back doors for the firmware to act are established, increasing the attack surface. Each update should be validated as coming from a trusted source, preferably using cryptographic means such as signed packages. Organizations must also have a backup procedure in place to independently check changes before they are implemented.

Hackers pay attention to any and all parts of the security perimeter, therefore companies must verify that all equipment is secured. This includes ensuring that peripheral and support devices, as well as the obvious primary targets, are secured from these assaults. Hackers are becoming more clever by the day.

The Bottom Line

The greatest crisis plan is one that you never have to employ, but every organization must have one in place. This is particularly true when it comes to equipment hacking; taking a reactive approach is not an option. 
Knowing that this will be our reality, we will require plans, procedures, and technologies to identify, defend, and mitigate assaults. Keep your hot runner systems secure by verifying each and every security detail that goes into the hot molding process. And as the old saying goes “better safe than sorry”, the same should be implemented in and around you. Invest in security now and you will be thankful that you did so.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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