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Phlashing is a type of computer attack that affects the firmware of embedded system, computers and networking devices. It is designed to affect firmware and software of computing devices that have embedded firmware operating system and applications. The attack is deemed so severe that usually replacing system or hardware is the only option to recover from it.
Phlashing is primarily a type of denial of service attack (DoS) specifically directed towards embedded systems based networking devices and equipments. These embedded systems can include any device that has embedded or pre-loaded firmware utility installed on it. Typically, the hackers or attackers exploit the known vulnerabilities and exploits in such software. Once the firmware crashes, the device is no longer able to function and eventually will be disconnected from all other devices, networks or IT environments.
Phlashing was first demonstrated by HP Head of System Security when they identified and exploited a flaw on a network hardware device that ultimately leads to device crashing. Being so severe that device replacement is inevitable in most cases, it is also termed as a type of permanent denial of service attack (PDOS).