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Blue Pill attack

Blue Pill attack definition

Blue Pill is a theoretical attack idea developed by globally-known cybersecurity expert Joanna Rutkowska. In this advanced attack, a harmful virtual machine (i.e., Blue Pill) seizes full control of the physical computer, staying hidden from the victim's machine and its operating system. Attackers can change how the virtual machine behaves and watch its communications with the computer's hardware. Even though the machine is compromised, it looks like it's running independently.

Even though Blue Pill attacks haven't happened in real life, the idea makes people more aware of security risks in virtualization. It inspires efforts to make virtualization tech safer and prevent potential attacks.

See also: active attack

How Blue pill attacks work

  • The attacker sets up a malicious virtual machine and installs it on the target system, which runs a hypervisor — software that manages virtual machines.
  • The Blue Pill takes advantage of weaknesses in the hypervisor to gain control over it. It cleverly tricks the hypervisor into thinking it's legitimate.
  • Once the Blue Pill takes control of the hypervisor, it can control the physical computer (the host). The attacker gains full access to the hardware and the operating system running on that computer.
  • Once the Blue Pill controls the computer, it can intercept and manipulate how the victim's virtual machine communicates with the hardware. It can change data, redirect network traffic, and even run code without the victim knowing.
  • To stay hidden, the Blue Pill ensures any actions it takes on the physical computer don't leave behind any traces that could be found during forensic analysis. It tries to cover its tracks to avoid detection.