0

For someone who deals with dangerous files and websites frequently or even for the general user what is the way to avoid getting infected by spyware/virus permanently?

I am looking to buy a new laptop and the problem mentioned above is what I am worried about. Here is one idea that came to my mind: Use two usbs. One is a live USB to be used as the operating system and another for storage. And I encrypt the harddisk completely before so some malware can't jump there. Or could I install the operating system on my USB? I could have multiple usbs with different operating systems. The priority is to protect the laptop from getting infected by an undetectable/unremovable pegasus kind of malware. Will the bios be secure using this method?

Should I also look for some specific type of hardware when purchasing a laptop? Like a non programmable bios if available?

What do you suggest?

1
  • The subject of undetectable/unremovable malware is a difficult state to test/measure to be free unless there is some evidence. "How secure" is a question of perception unless there are enough test criteria of the bootable media stored files available to be loaded. Jul 28, 2022 at 23:05

2 Answers 2

1

Frame change:

There's probably not a hardware solution to every risk of downloading malware regularly.

Solution:

Virtual Machines (VM). There is still a risk of a VM escape but it's pretty rare. Virtual Machines also let one boot whatever OS they want at will. Throw away or roll back OSes at will after an infection.

Considerations:

  • Disable any hardware passthrough (USB, PCIE, etc)

As for special hardware:

  • Plenty of RAM, both the host OS and the guest have to share.
  • Processor with support virtualization acceleration (Intel VT-x, etc)
  • Plenty of HDD, each OS needs room on the HDD for all it's stuff

It is recommended to keep one's VM software up to date to avoid lingering bugs which might allow a VM escape.

1
  • 2
    I'd add "disable 3D acceleration and any kind of PCI passthrough" to the list.
    – forest
    Jul 28, 2022 at 23:54
1

And I encrypt the harddisk completely before so some malware can't jump there.

Your bootloader will still be unencrypted, and disk encryption modes (such as XTS) are malleable, making it possible for malware to intelligently modify the contents of the disk without knowing the key.

Will the bios be secure using this method?

No. Any task running on a computer with superuser (kernel mode) privileges will be able to modify the BIOS if the hardware allows it. Look into CHIPSEC, a firmware security analysis framework. It will give you a lot of information about your system, including whether or not your firmware is writable. Spoiler alert: It probably is (and if not, I'm sure your option ROMs are writable!).

What do you suggest?

Use a computer with Intel BootGuard and don't keep anything on it that you don't want stolen. Simply buying a computer with the feature isn't enough; you must understand the capabilities and limitations of trusted boot technologies. This is a fairly difficult task, so honestly, you're probably better off using a burner computer for your malware analysis jobs. Look into how TPMs can provide integrity as well.

13
  • 1) You say the bootloader will be unencrypted but can't you simply access boot settings and set a password (encrypt) for the bootloader and it asks you each time you power on your computer?
    – User4857
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:10
  • Nope. The bootloader is always unencrypted and it has to be. In fact, usually the entire kernel is also unencrypted! You can ask your BIOS to ask for a password, but it only helps with casual security. It's very easy to bypass and does not involve any encryption. Only trusted boot technologies (of which BootGuard is an example) can detect (but not prevent!) tampering, and they're not trivial to use.
    – forest
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:12
  • 2)Are there any encryption modes beside XTS that are not vulnerable or malleable? 3)When you say that method won't be secure do you mean installing an OS on a USB? But I should not have those problems if I use a live USB right?
    – User4857
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:14
  • Yes, there are modes that are not malleable. Some encryption software supports integrity, where the cipher is combined with HMAC to detect tampering. However that doesn't really help when your BIOS can just be overwritten. Encryption is useful for confidentiality. You need other tools if you want to ensure software integrity. The only way to do that is with some form of trusted boot. See QubesOS' "Anti-Evil Maid" tool for a relatively easy-to-use example, or the academic STARK/MARK for a more powerful but much harder to use tool. It's not something you can just "turn on" and be secure.
    – forest
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:15
  • Does Intel boot guard or other similar setups work if I modify the contents of the harddisk? For example if I do a full disk encryption with ubuntu and delete windows and install that? Or another OS like qubes? Or is it independent from the harddisk?
    – User4857
    Jul 30, 2022 at 7:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .