MSI users are at risk of rogue BIOS / firmware updates, after hackers got hold of its source codes, private keys and BIOS firmware!
MSI Hit By Ransomware Attack + Data Theft!
On 7 April 2023, MSI (Micro-Star International) was hit by a ransomware attack, in which the hackers allegedly exfiltrated 1.5 terabytes of source codes, BIOS firmware, private keys and other data from its servers.
In its terse regulatory filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE), MSI admitted that it was hacked, but did not detail the circumstances or nature of the attack.
After detecting some information systems being attacked by hackers,MSI’s IT department has initiated information security defense mechanism and recovery procedures. The Company also has been reported the anomaly to the relevant government authorities.
MSI claimed that the attack had “[no] significant impact our business in terms of financial and operational currently“, but said that it was “enhancing the information security control measures of its network and infrastructure to ensure data security.”
In a public statement, MSI also urged users to only obtain firmware / BIOS updates from its official website, and refrain from using other sources.
Stolen Data Exposes MSI Users To Rogue BIOS / Firmware Updates!
The MSI ransomware attack and data theft appear to be committed by the Money Message ransomware gang, which has threatened to release the 1.5 terabytes of critical data that it exfiltrated from MSI servers.
While MSI has apparently restored files encrypted by the ransomware, exposure of the private keys and source codes, will likely allow Money Message or other threat actors to develop rogue BIOS or firmware updates.
Installing rogue BIOS / firmware updates will give the malware the access level of a super-low-level rootkit, giving it full control over your computer, with the ability to spy on almost everything you do. Such malware will also be extremely difficult to detect and remove. After all, it boots up before the operating system!
These days, rogue BIOS or firmware updates are much less of a problem because they are usually digitally-signed by the vendor, MSI in this case. Even if threat actors distribute Trojanised downloads for MSI users, they cannot create the right digital signatures for those files.
However, now that MSI’s private keys have been stolen, they can be used to create rogue BIOS or firmware updates with authentic digital signatures! MSI users downloading and installing those updates will never know the difference.
The biggest risk right now is with PC hardware enthusiasts who enjoy installing unofficial firmware updates to gain access to special settings. That is precisely why MSI is urging its users to only download files from its official website.
Of course, this assumes that the MSI download servers are secure, and have not been compromised. If the threat actors have access to the MSI download servers, they can insert Trojanised downloads with proper signatures, and MSI system administrators may be none the wiser!
Let’s hope that this incident forces MSI to take a much closer look at its cybersecurity measures, and run penetration tests to ensure that its download servers are secure. Otherwise, some threat actors will likely hit pay dirt with MSI users!
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ASUS Z690 Hero owners are FUMING because their motherboards are MELTING, SMOKING and CATCHING ON FIRE!
Take a look at the SHOCKING REASON why these premium motherboards are literally melting down…
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero : Potential Fire Hazard?!
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero owners are complaining on social media, and in the ASUS Support Forum, that their premium motherboards are literally burning up!
In fact, one user, TheMaxXHD, had two of his ASUS Z690 Hero motherboards die in just 3 days, with one actually catching on fire!
Late at night I am merely surfing the web and all of a sudden it hard shuts off again, and this time when I look over there I see a component on the motherboard literally on fire.
Other users reported hearing loud pops, and either smelling or seeing smoke wafting from their ASUS Z690 Hero motherboards, before shutting down.
Even users who were lucky not to experience a fire or melting components, reported that their ASUS Z690 Hero motherboards were unstable, rebooting on and off.
The motherboard’s Q Code display would also show Error Code 53, which refers to a memory error. However, replacing or swapping the memory modules will not solve the problem.
Why ASUS Z690 Hero Motherboards Are Melting / Catching On Fire!
Users who reported problems with their ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards, have noted that they were melting / smoking / catching on fire in roughly the same area – between the last DIMM slot and the Q Code display.
In that location, you can see two MOSFETs (Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors), but they are apparently not the cause.
According to a YouTuber called Buildzoid, the capacitor next to those two MOSFETs are the likely cause of the melting / smoking / catching on fire.
He pointed out that the etched text on the capacitor is upside down, which suggests that they were incorrectly installed in reverse!
In this comparison, the reversed capacitor is seen in the picture on the left, with the positive terminal on the left, instead of to the right, as seen on the picture on the right.
When such a capacitor is installed in reverse polarity, it will not only fail to work, it will actually act as a short circuit.
This quickly creates hydrogen gas (which is flammable!), and eventually destroys the capacity and could even start a fire.
There is no doubt that installing capacitors in reverse polarity is a dangerous mistake.
ASUS Confirms Reversed Capacitor On Z690 Hero Motherboards!
ASUS confirmed Buildzoid’s assessment, stating that they have “preliminarily identified a potential reversed memory capacitor issue in the production process“.
They also confirmed that the reversed capacitor issue affects units manufactured in 2021, with the part number 90MB18E0-MVAAY0 and serial numbers starting with MA, MB, or MC.
They did not, however, reveal how this dangerous mistake happened, or why their quality control (QC) measures failed to pick up the mistake.
To identify whether your ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard is affected by this reversed memory capacitor mistake, you can check the part and serial numbers in the product packaging label.
Unfortunately, there is no general recall of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero.
While ASUS admitted that there is a reversed memory capacitor issue, they did not recall the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards.
They only stated that they are going to continue their “thorough inspection” with their suppliers and customers, and “will be working with relevant government agencies on a replacement program“.
It is unknown why ASUS would need to work with government agencies on a replacement program, but for now – there is no recall program.
Neither did ASUS get back to the user whose Z690 Hero motherboard caught on fire after 2 weeks :
I have heard nothing from them. I sent them via reddit dm my second board’s serial number that I had returned to my local microcenter, which was the board that actually caught on fire, so they have a paper trail to follow and maybe retrieve that board from the store, and I explained the issue.
My only hope is they are actually looking into this, because it is a serious concern. However, I have heard nothing, so I don’t know.
One can only hope, but if they just sit there doing nothing, its a pretty big shame, as Asus support is one of the supposed big reasons why people buy Asus
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero : What Should You Do?
It is unfortunate that ASUS did not recall all affected ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboards. The memory capacitor installed in reverse polarity poses a real danger, and is a fire hazard.
Therefore, it would be advisable to avoid buying the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero until this issue is resolved satisfactorily.
If you are using a Z690 Hero motherboard that is affected by this issue, you should IMMEDIATELY STOP USING IT, and reach out to ASUS.
Until ASUS agrees to fix the affected motherboards, the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero should only be used by “Those Who Dare” to risk damage, or worse, from the reversed memory capacitor…
If possible, return the motherboard for a full refund, or exchange it for alternative motherboards like the GIGABYTE AORUS Z690 Master (US | UK | AU | SG | MY), like TheMaxXHD whose Z690 Hero caught fire :
I have since swapped out the board for a Gigabyte Aorus Z690 Master and has been going just fine for almost a full week. Nothing else was changed other than the motherboard, indicating to me, this is a motherboard issue.
All in all, it appears like some boards have components in flames, some merely just become bricked with code 53. In any case, I would advise avoiding until and if Asus responds.
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AMD and Cray just unveiled the Frontier supercomputer, which will deliver exascale performance! Here is a primer on the world’s fastest supercomputer!
The Frontier Supercomputer – Designed By Cray, Powered By AMD
AMD announced that it is joining Cray, the U.S Department Of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop the Frontier supercomputer. It will be the fastest in the world, delivering exascale performance.
Developed at a cost of over US$600 million, the Frontier supercomputer will deliver over 1.5 exaflops of processing power when it comes online in the year 2021!
AMD Contributions To The Frontier Supercomputer
AMD is not just a provider of hardware – the CPUs and GPUs – for the Frontier supercomputer. They will contribute their years of experience in High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence :
Experience in High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Custom AMD EPYC CPU
Purpose-built Radeon Instinct GPU
High Bandwith Memory (HBM)
Tightly integrated 4:1 GPU to CPU ratio
Custom, high speed coherent Infinity Fabric connection
Enhanced, open ROCm programming environment for AMD CPUs and GPUs support
Frontier Supercomputer And The Future Of Exascale Computing
With the development of the Frontier supercomputer, AMD and Cray will usher in a new era of exascale computing. It will lay the foundation for advanced and high performance of Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics and simulation.
The use of this super-fast supercomputer by the U.S Department of Energy will further boost the limits of scientific discovery for the U.S and the world.