Low-level motherboard security keys leaked in MSI breach, claim researchers

The company’s mea culpa came two days after a cyberextortion gang going by the name Money Message claimed to have stolen MSI source code, BIOS development tools, and private keys.

Researchers at vulnerability research company Binarly claim not only to have got hold of the data stolen in the breach, but also to have searched through it for embedded crpyotgraphic keys and come up with numerous hits.

To strengthen the level of cryptographic verification provided by both BIOS Guard and Boot Guard, and to tie the process to a specific motherboard or motherboard family, the cryptographic keys they use aren’t themselves stored in rewritable flash memory.

The corresponding bad news, of course, is that if the private keys that correspond to these safe-until-the-end-of-the-universe public keys are ever compromised, the burned-in public keys can never be updated.

Boot Guard public keys, once burned into your motherboard, can’t be updated, so if their corresponding private keys are compromised, there’s nothing you can do to correct the problem.

Compromised firmware signing keys can be retired and replaced, which gives firmware downloaders and updating tools a chance of warning you in the future about firmware that was signed with a now-untrusted key, but this doesn’t actively prevent the stolen signing keys being used.

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