What is Firmware?

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Technology is everywhere. You may have heard about this term firmware. But immediately the question arises in mind what is firmware. If you have not unfamiliar with the term don’t worry, most people have no idea about it. Let’s know what it is actually.

As we are living in a technology world, it is common that we have to familiar with the technology-related terms. We are using thousands of devices like remote control, toaster, washing machine, microwave oven, and a ton. I bet that you have heard or use the two-term “Hardware” and “Software” a thousand times in your life.

We can tell at least one or two lines about hardware and software. Although different people have a different definition of these terms the moral is the same.  We are using many devices in our daily life and all the devices have must hardware and software.

However, there is something more than just hardware and software. There is a term called Firmware. Let’s define the term Firmware.

What is Firmware

Firmware is a piece of software program that pre-installed on the devices. Basically, Firmware was installed by the manufacturer of the device. It defines the core functionality of that device.

If this concept passed over your head don’t worry, let’s discuss it through a simple example.

Let’s take a simple example.

You have seen the screen of the washing machine where some options are shown. Just click on any option and go. These functionalities are programmed by the manufacturer of the washing machine. This is the pre-installed software program and it directly communicates with the hardware component. This is a good Firmware example.

Almost all electronic devices except the simplest contain some firmware. The hardware components come into play through the Firmware. Basically, the Firmware is installed in non-volatile memory like ROM or Flash memory.

As a normal user, we can’t access the memory area of the Firmware. In the normal case, we can’t modify or override the Firmware.

In most of the devices, there is no need to change the Firmware during the lifetime. There is some firmware that is permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture of the device.

But if you have deep knowledge in this field you can do the modification or override it. You may have heard about the term Firmware hacking.

Some devices allow user for updating. Update of firmware adds some extra options on that device and fixes the bugs.

Difference between firmware and software

To say frankly, there is no official distinction between firmware and software. For our understanding, we can conclude some idea about this.

Software generally considered as high-level programs while the firmware is low-level programs.

The software is mainly stored in a user accessible memory area, while the firmware is located in an inaccessible memory area embedded in the hardware.

A software update may occur frequently but a firmware update is very rare.

What is the firmware update

In the old days, there is no update for device firmware. As the growth of technology, we need some extra functionality on the same device. So manufacturing company provide some update of firmware.

Some devices prompt the message of the firmware update and some devices don’t prompt.

The installation process of the firmware update varies from device to device. Basically, this updating is done by the manufacturer company. It adds some extra options to the existing device. It also fixes bugs in the device.

There is no way to set the device in auto-update mode for the firmware. We have to check manually whether there is any pending update for the particular device or not. For some specific device, you can check for the update in the manufacturer’s website to download firmware updates.

Keep one thing in mind that the firmware update does not shut down while the update is being in progress. An incomplete firmware update will corrupt the firmware, which can seriously damage the device working process.

What is firmware hacking

Some tech expert people create an unofficial version of firmware for many hi-tech devices. They reverse engineered the built-in version of the firmware. This is called firmware hacking.

They install the software on the device remotely and change the functionality of the device. Hacker can remotely access the device through the internet and can fulfill their bad intention. Mostly it happens when firmware update. So follow the right instruction in the user manual of the device to update the firmware.

You can do one simple step to overcome this. Just check the model number of the device you want to update the firmware and the new firmware update model number.

A few years back, many CCTV camera in the USA were hacked by firmware hacker. It proves that firmware is in the range of hacker.

Some firmware hack has also focused on injecting malware into devices like smartphone USB devices etc.

Conclusion

We have started our discussion from what is firmware and now we are in the conclusion stage. Firmware is the background hero of the devices. Some device manufacturer provides update gradually and some are not. If you find any device prompt firmware update then go for it. Follow right steps to update the firmware and keep your device safe from firmware hackers.

 

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Bibhu Prasad Bal

A professional blogger, content writer, and a tech-savvy guy. He loves to explain stuff in a simple way, no matter what and how complicated it is.

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