Security firm F-Secure has warned businesses of the dangers of so-called ‘evil maid’ attacks.

The company explained that these attacks – when an attacker such as a maid compromises devices by gaining physical access to them – should be seen as a significant threat to security.

In a new guide warning companies of the dangers, F-Secure said: “While the ‘evil maid attack’ represents a very specific threat with limited opportunity for exploitation (e.g. physical access), its impact can be profound.”

F-Secure explained that these attacks take the form of any kind of physical tampering, “regardless of the opportunity and location of the attack, aimed at obtaining either persistence on the victim equipment for future remote access, or immediate extraction of the desired data, such as the hard disk contents”.

These attacks are of particular concern because the main focus of most software security features is to protect against remote attack vectors, such as malicious websites or malware. However, the ‘evil maid’ attack scenario “changes the attacker perspective as physical access to the target hardware is achieved”.

Businesses are under threat because the majority of devices have not been designed with physical security in mind, therefore leaving them prone to such attacks.

F-Secure advised against leaving devices unattended, including USB drives, and avoiding plugging any found drives into devices. It has also warned businesses to ensure their hard disk contents are encrypted to maintain their confidentiality, which is “essential to mitigate any ‘evil maid’ scenario or, more likely, the loss/theft of your device and data”.

It is also recommended for companies to employ the appropriate level of mobile data management. This is particularly vital for businesses with remote workers who carry out their duties out of the office.

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