The recent development in security breaches and imminent cyber-attacks has been witnessed by many and now more or less,  millions of users are trying to protect their private and sensitive data from hackers and cyber frauds which is globally increasing.

Big brands like Apple and Microsoft have always been the target of cybercriminals activities, data breaches as the most number of desktop and mobile users in the world use one of these brands making it simple for the hackers to target a group. They often look for other channels through which they can exploit users using a firmware.

National Vulnerability Database (NIST) reveals nearly a five-time increase in the number of firmware vulnerabilities revelations. And to fight the evil, or to combat threats specifically which is targeting the firmware and operating system level, Microsoft has brought us a new feature that we all could benefit from.

Firmware is just programming written into a hardware device’s non-volatile memory. It is a fixed data of a hardware device. It is basically a software program that is put into the hardware device such as a keyboard, hard drive, or video cards.

Now, the good news here is Microsoft has designed and recently disclosed it’s Secured-Core initiative that blocks potential firmware attacks. And this time they have come up with an objective to prevent any firmware attacks on the system. 

Customers may not see any “Secured -core” branding on PCs but they will feel the impact as it is one of the greatest initiatives taken by Microsoft after so many years to finally protect its users.

What else should you know about the Secured-Core PC initiative?

Well, there is a lot to know about Secure Core and its features. These systems are designed and built in partnership with Microsoft PC manufacturing and silicon partners. And moreover, these are specifically designed for giant industries like governmental organizations, financial services, healthcare industries, education sector and there are many more to come.

A hacking group name Strontium is using firmware vulnerabilities so that it could target large number of devices to deliver malware via firmware attack. In 2018 a couple of security researchers finds out the condition of Strontium.

The fundamental element of the Secured Core initiative is the System Guard Secure Launch. It is nothing but just a device requirement and it helps prevents your system’s boot process from potential threats and attacks. And moreover, Microsoft has given full information on how the device operates.

The Secure Launch basically built to function as a protector between the Windows 10 and system start-ups( the BIOS). The new Secured-core PC comes with the power of the brand new system and that makes sure that everything will run seamlessly and prevent malicious codes from hopping onto your system before you even get the chance to log-in.

Note: Microsoft has announced 3 laptops that support Secured-Core  in their official secure-core PC web page

  • ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th-gen)
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga(4th-gen)
  • Panasonic Toughbook 55

Know more about the features of Built-in Protection layers of “Secured-core PC”

Microsoft has taken a very powerful initiative to protect against firmware attacks and they are using 3 robust layers of protection for Secure-Core PC and they are given below.

Basic Integration protection:  Trusted Platform Module 2.0, Secure Boot and BitLocker.

Solid Protection from Kernel Attacks: Hypervisor protected code integrity( HVCI), Virtualization Based Security (VBS) and Kernel DMA protection.

Protection from Firmware attacks: System Guard SMM protections and System Guard Secure Launch.

This built-in Secured Core PC is also programmed and designed to allow the secured-core defense to boot securely and along with that it also renders protection against imminent firmware attacks. Now let’s see how it functions.

  • Firmware ProtectionSystem Guard Secure launch basically allows the CPU to boot the device in a secure manner which can help to prevent firmware attacks
  • Loading Windows Securely – It is enabled with Hypervisors Enforced Integrity and it can be used to start executables signed by approved authorities. 
  • Identity Protection – You can easily sign-in Windows Hello without having a password. The Credential Guard makes maximum use of VBS that can prevent identity attacks.
  • Secure, Hardware-isolated operating Environments – You can also go with a trusted and legit platform like Module 2.0. You can have a modern CPU with the powerful root of trust measurement (DRTM) to boot up your PC securely and it will also help you in reducing firmware threats.

How a Secured Core PC is complete?

Secured core PCs basically integrates itself with the operating system and hardware. And it merges itself with virtualization and firmware security to boost an additional layer of security beneath the operating system. Secured Core PCsdesign completely ensures to not only detect an attack form firmware but to prevent this kind of attack. 

Microsoft’s Secured Core PC initiative is very appreciable. It wishes is to offer a rich eco-system of Windows 10 devices. These kinds of requirements allow the customers to boot securely and protect the device from potential firmware vulnerabilities. Moreover, it helps in protecting the operating system from various possible attacks and also prevent unauthorized access to devices and information and it also ensures that identity and the domain credentials are also completely secure and protected.

IT admins can use built-in measurements so that they could securely keep in check the health of their systems using System Guard runtime attestation. This is an advance firmware security solution that will with dedication work with other features of Windows 10 to make sure that it provides absolute protection against modern threats.

Coming down to the conclusion

Microsoft has been planning the Secured-Core System program Windows 10 Secuirty update for a few years now and finally, it has implemented the built-in with the WIndows PC. I hope after going through the article you have understood the importance of Secure-cored PC and how it could help you with preventing potential firmware attacks and keep your system safe from vulnerabilities.

We have come to the end of this article on Microsoft discloses ‘Secured-core’ that block firmware attacks:  Windows 10 Security Update.

I really believe you all have found it informative.

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