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Dangerous new virus detected on computer graphics cards – and Apple Macs aren’t immune

Andrew Sadauskas /

Berlin-based security researcher Patrick Stewin has detected a dangerous new type of computer virus that hides on computer graphics or network cards, and is currently immune to the detection techniques currently used by most antivirus software.

SC Magazine reports the DAGGER virus, detected by Stewin, is a sophisticated type of malware that exists on an expansion card or peripheral.

The virus then takes advantage of a feature found in most modern computers called direct memory access (DMA), which allows a peripheral to access a computer’s memory independently of a CPU.

DAGGER is known to have been used on Linux and Windows systems, with Apple Macs not immune to the technique used by the virus either.

“DMA-based attacks launched from peripherals are capable of compromising the host without exploiting vulnerabilities present in the operating system running on the host.

“Therefore they present a highly critical threat to system security and integrity. Unfortunately, to date no OS (operating system) implements security mechanisms that can detect DMA-based attacks. Furthermore, attacks against memory management units have been demonstrated in the past and therefore cannot be considered trustworthy.”

The German government is currently funding research to find a method of reliably detecting malware that takes advantage of the vulnerability.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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