We can turn your computer into a brick

Yes we can. That quote from a report about a high level briefing big government authorities gave big business CEO’s back in 2010. Will it make a difference?

I doubt it. More likely the business leaders will try to squeeze whatever FUD they can out of the publicity surrounding news reports about the briefing in order to churn up lucrative contracts related to security hardware, software and services. The “brick” comment relates in particular to the revelation that U.S. agencies have developed a way to “kill” a computer by infecting its firmware (the usually read-only software that acts as an interface between the system’s hardware and operating system software).

The amusing thing about that “threat” is it is already being done by big business itself — for example Apple computer’s intentional “bricking” of “jail broken” iPhones. It has also been seen in the disabling of other devices by incompetently written or applied firmware. Malware has been known to be able to do this for decades. The only real “news” here is that government has been stupid enough to fall into the trap of underwriting and using this form of 21st century digital poison gas — which is sure to blow back on its creators just the way the original chemical poison gas did, making it as great a threat to its sources as to its targets.