A Secure Boot Vulnerability Has Been Exposed on MSI Motherboards

MSI is known for being one of the best manufacturers in the PC market, with high-quality graphics cards, laptops, and motherboards. But the latest discovery could put a stain on their reputation.

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Over 300 MSI motherboards are being reported with a secure boot vulnerability. Said vulnerability could be a huge problem for people who frequent any crypto auto trading platform or use USB drives constantly.

But why is the secure boot protocol so essential, and how do you know if the MSI motherboard you are using has this issue? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the issue.

Broken Secure Boot?

The MSI motherboard vulnerability was discovered by researcher David Potocki. According to Potocki, he discovered the issue in December 2022 while setting up a secure boot on his new PC.

During the setup process, Potocki discovered that BIOS settings were set to accept any OS image, regardless of its source. Intrigued, Potocki began to investigate motherboards from other brands, such as Biostar and AS Rock, but found that only MSI motherboards were suffering from this issue.

The vulnerability itself appears to have been caused by a change to the factory settings made by MSI. Said change allows the BIOS to read any OS image, even if the secure boot option is enabled.

Over 300 MSI motherboards have been found with this vulnerability, according to Potocki’s report. So far, the issue has been found on the B450 TOMAHAWK MAX models. But users of other models should also check their settings, as B550-A PRO owners are also reporting this issue.

To date, this issue has not been reported on any MSI notebooks, meaning so far, laptop owners can rest easy. Still, it is a good idea to check the BIOS settings of any newer notebook or upcoming MSI gaming laptop models.

Why Is The Secure Boot So Important?

Secure boot is a security protocol that has been in existence since 2011 and is now in use on most motherboard models.

The main goal of secure boot is to protect the operating system and prevent unknown software from running when the PC is booted. This protocol is essential to avoid dangerous malware, such as boot sector viruses, which can harm the PC or be used to steal information.

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Secure Boot can only be used on a motherboard that is set to UEFI mode. If the motherboard is set in “Legacy” mode, the user will have to change the BIOS settings and reinstall the operating system to use secure boot.

Note that with the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has made secure boot mandatory when installing or upgrading from Windows 10.

Should I Always Enable Secure Boot?

While Secure Boot is great, it can cause problems from time to time. For example, Secure Boot can misidentify secure hardware as unknown, causing issues while booting the PC. This is rare these days, but it can still happen with older GPUs.

Linux’s users should also be careful while using Secure Boot. While the newest builds have better compatibility with this protocol, users still report issues from time to time.

It’s recommended to keep secure boot enabled if you are running Windows 10 and 11, and to only disable it if you plan to use an older version of Windows or Linux.

Is There A Solution For MSI Motherboard Owners?

While the secure boot vulnerability can be serious, MSI users can easily fix this issue thanks to David Potocki.

First, they need to go to the BIOS menu of the motherboard by pressing the “Delete” button when the computer is booting up. Then, they need to go to the security settings and check if the “Secure Boot” option is enabled.

Once in the menu, check the Removable and Fixed Media settings and change them to “Deny Execute”. These changes will fix the vulnerability and block any unknown software. Just be sure to save your changes before you exit the BIOS menu.

Do not enable Secure Boot if you don’t know if your PC is running in Legacy mode, as you could end up blocking your OS and end up in a boot loop. If you don’t have experience with these sorts of settings, seek technical help.

What Will Happen With The MSI Motherboards?

According to MSI’s statement on Reddit, the changes to the default settings were done intentionally to give users as much flexibility as possible when building their PCs with any software they want. However, due to negative user feedback, MSI has decided to send future BIOS updates that change the default settings to “Deny Execute”. They also advised users to change BIOS menu settings if they are uncomfortable with security settings.