There’s nothing worse than discovering that your computer has been infected with a virus. Like all forms of malware, they are designed to cause harm. Some viruses delete data, whereas others capture and steal data. Regardless, viruses receive their namesake from their viral-like replication properties. They can replicate their code automatically while spreading to other parts of your computer as well as other computers and devices connected to the same network.

While all viruses can self replicate, some of them target specific areas during an infection. There are viruses that target firmware, for instance. Known as firmware viruses, they are a serious concern.

The Basics of Firmware Viruses

Firmware viruses are a form of self-replicating malware that targets the firmware of an infected computer. Firmware is software that comes preinstalled on computers. It’s designed to provide basic support for devices and hardware. If a virus writes its malicious code to the firmware, it’s considered a firmware virus.

How Firmware Viruses Work

How do firmware viruses work exactly? For a virus to infect your computer, it must write its malicious code. Most viruses write their malicious code to a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SDD). Firmware viruses, conversely, write their malicious code to the firmware.

All computers have firmware. It’s a small piece of software that’s added by the manufacturer. If you’re unable to boot up your computer’s operating system (OS) — or if the OS is experiencing a technical error — you can load the firmware. The firmware provides the core drivers and other elements needed to run your computer. Firmware viruses are designed to write their malicious code to the firmware.

Tips to Protect Against Firmware Viruses

Rather than waiting until an infection occurs, you should take measures to protect your computer from firmware viruses. Firmware viruses are more problematic than traditional viruses. While traditional viruses write their malicious code to storage drives, firmware viruses specifically target the firmware. Fortunately, you can protect against firmware viruses in several ways.

Ensuring that your computer has up-to-date antivirus software can protect it from firmware viruses. Antivirus software doesn’t discriminate against specific types of viruses. Rather, it can detect and neutralize all types of viruses, including firmware viruses.

You should also keep your computer’s firmware updated to the latest version. Firmware is software, and like most types of software, it’s regularly updated by the developer. If the developer identifies a vulnerability in the firmware, it may release a patch to fix it. You’ll need to install the patch, though, to fix this vulnerability.