I heard many years ago from word of mouth that this kind of malware exists, which could for example blow up capacitors in your PC.

  • Has such malware or something even remotely similar ever existed?

  • How do you technically detect such malware (if it already exists)?

  • How is it called?

  • Isn't it kind of unrealistic to have such malware due to the different kinds of hardware in PCs/Servers/etc?

  • If it's not fictional then how do the safeguards protect against such threats and what about the fact that the safeguards would have loopholes?

1 Answer 1


Software-based malware can conceivably damage/wear down your hard drive/SSD by overusing it and overwriting it repetitively. You could, in the past, also seriously mess up your CPU/GPU configuration by playing with Windows registry keys (overclocking and such), so that is/was also a possible vector.

Firmware based attacks (BIOS malware/bootkits) in general can have impacts on hardware, as can physical attacks (ie Killer USBs).

The "industrial" malware you may be thinking of is Stuxnet, an attack on PLCs in Iranian nuclear facilities.

Attackers tend to have specific targets (and/or go after protocols that are widely used) with attacks like this, so portability is not a concern.

Companies protect against insidious hardware-based malware the same way they do against other malware: strict configuration and policies to make it difficult for attackers. Detection is difficult if the malware is written well, but it could be mitigated by regular benchmarks and checking of health of hardware.

  • I'm guessing firmware based attacks all always not effective against that specific product and firmware version, is that correct? Feb 26, 2022 at 21:20
  • @SirMuffington If you mean they leverage a more random/brute-force method and are not always effective on the first try, sure, but why wouldn't they be effective on any machines matching target specs, given it was developed for a specific hardware setup and firmware version? There's not much "hardening" configuration you can do on firmware usually, and companies tend to leave the manufacturers' flashed ROM alone.
    – belkarx
    Feb 27, 2022 at 18:08

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