After the spread of some information, and some mis-information, the story of secure boot in Windows 8, achieved through security features of UFEI has gone viral. Linux forums all over the web are suddenly full of activists angry about some evil corporation wanting to deprive them of free software. The aforementioned company has issued a long blog post by way of clarification.
In brief, the point is that there are plans to replace the BIOS – the main body of firmware which sets up a PC to be ready to run an operating system. A key task of the BIOS in most systems is to start the boot loader program (or ‘pre-OS environment’), which in turn loads the operating system and gets it running. This process is prone to attack: if someone can run an alternative boot loader (or reconfigure it, or launch a different operating system), they can either steal all the data on your disk, or they can launch something which looks just like your operating system, but is subverted to send copies of all your secrets – such as everything you type – to the bad guys. Continue reading