Tech chips

Published on May 28th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


US Army Uses Chinese Electronic Chips That Could Enable Spying

So, it appears in efforts to keep costs down the US military uses chips that are manufactured by a Chinese company which a team of researchers from Cambridge University say that they have discovered a secret access point in the chip which would allow third party tampering.

While they didn’t specify ‘which’ chip used by the US military that they tested they did say that it could be found in weapons, nuclear power plants, and public transport and that there was a previously unknown “backdoor” found and as a result those systems and hardware were vulnerable to attack.

As Sergei Skorobogatov a Cambridge University researcher put it this way:

Claims were made by the intelligence agencies around the world, from MI5, NSA and IARPA, that silicon chips could be infected. We developed breakthrough silicon chip scanning technology to investigate these claims. We chose an American military chip that is highly secure with sophisticated encryption standard, manufactured in China. Our aim was to perform advanced code breaking and to see if there were any unexpected features on the chip. We scanned the silicon chip in an affordable time and found a previously unknown backdoor inserted by the manufacturer. This backdoor has a key, which we were able to extract. If you use this key you can disable the chip or reprogram it at will, even if locked by the user with their own key. This particular chip is prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport. In other words, this backdoor access could be turned into an advanced Stuxnet weapon to attack potentially millions of systems. The scale and range of possible attacks has huge implications for National Security and public infrastructure.

It is interesting that this report comes at the same time that the US government has expressed serious concern about doing business with two Chinese companies: ZTE and Huawei.

via The Next Web



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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

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