Browse Definitions:
Definition

equipment destruction attack

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An equipment destruction attack, also known as a hardware destruction attack, is an exploit that destroys physical computer and electronic equipment.

Equipment destruction attacks can be enabled simply as a result of physical access to the computer hardware, along with a tool for attack – which could also be as simple as a hammer or a cup of coffee. However, remotely-initiated malware can also be used to destroy computer equipment. It’s commonly believed that malware cannot affect computer hardware and that a format of the hard disk is the most extreme measure required to fix an issue. In reality, however, a number of equipment destruction attacks have been fully documented.

Stuxnet is one vivid example of a hardware destruction attack. Stuxnet is a worm rootkit that affects Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA systems control water and sewage plants, telecommunications, oil and gas refining systems as well as nuclear and other power plants. According to an article in the New York Times, it is likely that the United States and Israeli governments developed Stuxnet as a joint project. According to the authors, Israel has used the malware to attack Iranian nuclear power plant centrifuges, destroying several of them.

A few other examples:

  • Using equipment similar to a frequency jammer, an attacker can use an over-powered and focused radio signal to break sensitive chips in Wi-Fi access points.
  • At an RSA security conference demo, security company Crowdstrike forged an Apple firmware update for the Macintosh ACPI (advanced configuration and power interface) embedded controller. The forged update contained code that stuck CPU usage at 100 percent and turned off the device’s fans. A number of components were destroyed by heat and the systems were rendered unusable.
  • The same level of control demonstrated by Crowdstrike is available to BadBIOS, which could easily enable similar methods for hardware destruction.
This was last updated in July 2014

Continue Reading About equipment destruction attack

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • biometrics

    Biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of people's unique physical and behavioral characteristics.

  • principle of least privilege (POLP)

    The principle of least privilege (POLP), an important concept in computer security, is the practice of limiting access rights for...

  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for identifying, authenticating and authorizing individuals or ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close