All posts tagged BIOS

The NSA’s disaster aversion by keeping BIOSes safe for the free world

This weekend, CBS ran a story about how the NSA foiled a sinister plot to brick millions of PCs and cause a financial meltdown. At least they didn’t say MELTDOWN. My opinion is that this is a puff piece. A source managed to scare a journalist with a threat that sounded credible enough, and make […]

A dark day for security

A security professional’s nightmare happened to AMI this week. Tons of confidential data, including the source code for the UEFI BIOS for Intel Ivy Bridge-based systems and an AMI-owned private key for digital signatures, turned up on a wide-open FTP server for all comers to download anonymously. The implications are nearly limitless. To a malware […]

Is TRIM better than Native Command Queuing?

Another question from the big bag ‘o search queries: When you’re shopping for an SSD, is TRIM better than Native Command Queuing? It’s an interesting question, and my first inclination is to say no, because TRIM and NCQ solve two similar but distinctly different problems. But the more I think about it, the more I […]

Beware the Mebromi, my son

Symantec has identified Mebromi. a piece of malware that not only infects the MBR, but also infects the Award BIOS, making it very difficult to detect and eradicate. By hooking into the BIOS, Mebromi can easily re-infect a system the next time you reboot. Which is exactly what it does.

Happy birthday, IBM PC!

The IBM PC 5150 turns 30 today. IBM didn’t invent the personal computer, but if your computer has an Intel or AMD CPU in it, it’s the direct descendant of the beige box IBM unleashed on the world on August 12, 1981. Without a huge amount of effort, it’s even possible to run most of […]

What I would do to fix Dr. A’s computer

I left my conversation with Dr. A nearly convinced he doesn’t really need a new computer. The local store is pitching him a new $700 Dell Inspiron with a 1 TB hard drive and 6 GB of RAM and a 17-inch screen. But he could upgrade to a 1 TB hard drive for less than […]

Upgrade diary: Compaq Presario C552US

The Presario C552US shipped from the factory with a 1.6 GHz Celeron M single-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, and Windows Vista Home Basic. It’s the most miserable computing experience I’ve seen in a very long time, if ever. I don’t know how they ever sold a single one of these machines, performing like that. Fortunately, […]

Using ATA Security eXtension BIOS to add hard drive password protection

Most desktop PCs don’t have the ability to set an ATA password in the BIOS, precluding you from enabling the onboard AES-128 encryption in a drive like the Intel 320 SSD. If you’re willing to hack your BIOS or burn a boot ROM to put in a network card, Arne Fitzenreiter has ATA Security eXtension […]

SSDs and built-in encryption–and how to enable it

Update: This entry was based on preliminary information that turned out to be incorrect. Please see the following update. One of the last knocks on SSD performance is that they don’t perform well with full-drive encryption. But on Sandforce 1200- and 2200-based drives, and the next-generation Intel 320 drives introduced today, that’s not an issue […]

On troubleshooting

My Windows 7 upgrade was supposed to be a one-hour project on a Saturday afternoon. It dragged on until Wednesday. I’m at the point now where I probably have an hour’s work left on the machine–it’s Thursday now–but it’s late and I’m not sure I feel like it. The answers–loading the BIOS defaults and changing […]