Whoever uses a computer with an internet connection is vulnerable to the dangers posed by computer hackers including online predators. Furthermore, there are times when a computer infection done by a hacker attack will cause hardware harm.

Yes, hackers can damage your computer hardware as well. This can be done in a number of ways. One includes putting stress on the processor or motherboard or other devices through malicious software programs. 

This article will elaborate on and explain how can a hacker damage your computer. Furthermore, the causes and sources of such attacks along with the ways and methods of prevention will be discussed in detail. 

Hardware Damaging Attacks

These cybercriminals generally utilize phishing schemes, phishing emails or instant messaging, and fraudulent websites to infect your computer with malware and breach its security.

If you do not have a firewall, hackers can potentially attempt to get direct access to your computer and confidential information. They can listen in on your discussions and examine the backend of your website. 

Predators, who typically assume a false identity, can trick you into divulging vital personal or financial information, or worse. Malware or another form of malicious software is designed to spy on you, steal your important data, or just use system resources. 

It’s not always in a hacker’s best interest to ruin your hardware and render your computer useless. Occasionally, genuine physical harm results from excessive usage. Occasionally, the virus is so destructive that it cannot be removed regardless of your efforts. 

How Can A Hacker Damage Your Computer Hardware?

Humans, not machines, generate computer security threats. Computer predators prey on other people for their own financial gain. If you let a hacker gain access to both the Internet and your computer, the security risk they offer multiplies dramatically. 

Hackers are unauthorized users that enter into computer systems to steal, modify, or destroy data, frequently by installing malicious software without your awareness or consent. A very common scenario for an attacker is infecting a victim machine and utilizing its hardware resources to mine for crypto currency.

The mined crypto will eventually financially benefit the attacker. Needless to say, it is very taxing on the victim machine; eventually the victim will notice the hardware performance of their computer to degrade. This can present itself in the form of slow processing speed, increased RAM/CPU usage, and very likely a lot of network usage.

An attacker can also use infected victim machines in a botnet attack. This is when victim machines are infected with a command and control (C2) agent delivered via malicious script or virus. The C2 master will direct the victims to attack targets using a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack or other mass network attack, possibly even a spam campaign.

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Their malicious strategies and technological expertise allow them to gain access to sensitive information. Following are some of the methods through which a hacker can damage your computer hardware:

1. Overclocking The CPU

Overclocking is the process that increases the CPU’s clock speed. It results in early wear, more heat emission, and a greater demand for cooling and maintenance. 

But most crucially, overclocking can cause a CPU blockage, resulting in a PC blockage or restart. A CPU can be overclocked due to the following reasons:-

  • When the CPU is willfully overclocked by the user
  • Infection by worms, viruses, or another kind of malware as a result of the CPU reaching its limit
  • A direct effort by a hacker to alter the CPU voltage parameters in BIOS

As you’re undoubtedly aware, a computer that runs more slowly and abruptly stops or crashes might be infected with a virus. 

Viruses and malware may use your system’s resources and, for example, overload your processor. A CPU that is continuously overworked will overheat, and the thermal paste would thin out, causing it to fail much more quickly.

Some malware may deliberately melt your CPU. They are referred to as power viruses because they can execute a code that draws the maximum power from the CPU and generates excessive heat.

In earlier CPUs without thermal protection, this was a significant problem. Power viruses would’ve taken advantage of the fact that while a CPU is in operation, it utilizes certain electrical channels in its processor to execute specific instructions. 

By continuously pushing the processor to execute the same instructions, a power virus was able to overwork and destroy the CPU.

2. Roast Your RAM

Utilizing a recently revealed DRAM rowhammer hardware attack, certain computer viruses and spyware may destroy RAM. RAM has been a crucial component of almost every electronic device starting from personal computers to video game consoles.  

Because it enables devices to retrieve data at lightning speed, it is one of the most important factors in determining system performance.

Hackers might attempt to gain access to a file with limited access. It would be saved on such a DRAM memory module, whether it was a password as well as file permission that was inaccessible for security reasons. 

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Their target is unavailable, but they can cause the information-storing cell to flip by continuously flipping a memory cell adjacent to it. 

Whether by stealing data or destroying your RAM through an unstoppable row-pounding process, hackers might cause you a great deal of trouble if they chose to address the issue. As the DRAM rowhammer fault is a physical flaw, there isn’t any fix. 

Manufacturers would need to make improvements to the manufacturing process to address this issue, which is especially sensitive in desktop computers and laptops where ECC memory cannot be used.

3. Destroy The Network Interface Controller

This relates to malware that can damage the firmware of your network equipment. We have already discussed how routers or modems become corrupted.

Suppose, then, that you have a rudimentary understanding of the larger context of network infections. 

In this situation, you are aware that the majority of viruses that targets networks including their equipment are designed to either spy on network traffic or exploit network resources for denial-of-service assaults.

DoS means for Denial-of-Service and refers to an attack intended to overwhelm a targeted computer or network with traffic or convey information that may cause a crash.

PDoS is an abbreviation for Permanent Denial-of-Service. It is not a virus per se, but rather a form of attack designed to compromise network equipment firmware to the point that it is unusable.

A PDoS attack might flash malicious code into the firmware. If the activity corrupts the gadget’s firmware, the device will become unusable. 

If the flashed software is configured to do a wicked action, the hacker will obtain control of the device, with unfavorable repercussions.

4. Infect Your Hard Disc Permanently

Here, I’m not referring to malware that ruins some of the files you keep on your hard disk drive and disappears when you format the drive.

Whether it’s a conventional HDD or a more modern SSD, every hard drive consists of many components. The most significant components are the storage media (magnetic discs for HDDs and flash memories for SSDs) and the microcontroller.

This physical component is the microchip, which has software that includes controls for writing and reading to the disc as well as several service processes that assist the hard drive in detecting and fixing errors.

By tampering with the software of the hard drive’s chip, they enable malware to read the data on a portion that cannot be altered even during disc formatting.

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With the updated firmware version, the boot region of the HDD/SSD might be reinfected by malware. Therefore, as soon as you have completed reinstalling the computer system, the infection returns.

Once the software was corrupted to this extent, it could no longer be relied upon to erase its infection.

This is why corrupted firmware is indestructible, and why the majority of experts concur that it is easier and less expensive to dispose of a corrupted hard drive than to attempt to remove contaminated firmware.

Your hard disc, like every other piece of gear, has an estimated lifespan. Over time, as it records, eliminates, and rewrites, its physical condition might deteriorate, and one day you may realize that it is cracked.

However, there is still another technique to reach this stage far more quickly than desired. Thus, if a virus adds to an existing activity that may and will eventually destroy your hard disc, it will do so.

This process is known as disc thrashing, in which the hard drive continuously reads and writes data. Now, disk-thrashing is not something that malware and viruses will intentionally inflict on your system, but they can exacerbate it. It relates to how computers operate.

5. Damage To The Motherboard Of Your PC

Any cybersecurity expert will immediately think of the infamous Chernobyl virus when talking about viruses that target electronics. In 1999, it was discovered for the first time. 

Its forte was corrupting data on hard disks and motherboard BIOS. It would render inoperable any computer it infected by overwriting system information and destroying the BIOS.

Still, since the late 1990s, we’ve gone a long way, and Unified Extensible Firmware Protocol has defeated the BIOS as we know it.

The new introduction to the group is UEFI, a software connection between an OS and system firmware. This amazing child is capable of several skills. UEFI enables you to restore the firmware of a system or platform, unlike the ancient BIOS that we were unable to reflash.

Conclusion

It can be conclusively said that a hacker can damage your computer hardware in a number of ways. This can cause the hardware devices to be degraded or totally damaged. Therefore, it is advisable to adopt preventive measures against the attacks mentioned above for avoiding them.