UEFI News and Commentary

Sunday, April 01, 2018

UEFI Notes: CS2AI, UEFI Plugfest and the Zimmer Anniversary Post

After some gentle ribbing from colleagues at the UEFI plug-fest in Bellevue, WA, I've decided to try to keep track of recent trends in UEFI here again.

My collaborator on the UEFI shell book, Vincent Zimmer has posted some thoughts on open source and open platforms in his anniversary blog post here. He has a long history within the UEFI community and is currently working to lower the barrier of entry to server firmware design. And for the record, it is U-E-F-I (not YOO-FI or micro-EFI) and A-C-P-I (not AK-PIE). On a side note about competing acronym pronunciations, in the early days of the EISA (Extended ISA) bus architecture, it was pointed out that while English speakers naturally pronounced EISA as EEE-SA and ISA as AY-SA, other European languages had would naturally pronounce it exactly opposite (EISA as AY-SA and ISA as EE-SA).

Meanwhile, on the firmware security front, some focused industry organizations are doing a great job of bring the reality of these issues to professionals and college students. For example, CS2AI (with more than 15 chapters worldwide) zeroes in on control systems and how they present unique challenges for security, as well as the recent impacts of the Meltdown and Spectre with excellent Q&A afterwards.

The UEFI plugfest in Seattle this past week brought a host of security related presentations. I presented on "UEFI and the Security Development Lifecycle". Many of the same process disciplines are becoming a requirement in the BIOS world because of the attention BIOS security is now getting from hackers, academics and professionals. This is also raising interesting business issues for a low-margin industry that has traditionally assumed its obscurity made it a low-priority target.

Intel's CHIPSEC team had a great presentation on how their threat models have now expanded to include attackers who have physical access to the hardware. There was a lot of other good stuff, which I'll talk about when the presentations become publicly available.

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