Hardware backdoor

Hardware backdoors are backdoors in hardware .

In most cases citation needed ] hardware backdoors involved code inside hardware – such may reside in the firmware of computer chips. [1] In other cases, the backdoors may be directly implemented Trojans in the integrated circuit .

Hardware backdoors can undermine security in smartcards and other cryptoprocessors unless it is made in anti-backdoor design methods. [2] They have also been considered for car hacking . [3]


Hardware backdoors are considered highly problematic because: [1]

  1. They can not be controlled by such an antivirus software
  2. They can circumvent other kinds of security Such As disk encryption
  3. They can be injected at manufacturing time where the user has no degree of control


  • Around 2008, the FBI reported that 3,500 counterfeit Cisco network components were discovered in the US with some of them having their way into the military and government facilities. [4]
  • In 2011 Jonathan Brossard demonstrated a proof-of-concept hardware backdoor called “Rakshasa” which can be installed by anyone with physical access to hardware. It uses coreboot to re-flash the BIOS with a SeaBIOS and iPXE benign bootkit built from legitimate, open-source tools and can fetch malware over the web at boot time. [1]
  • In 2012 Dr. Sergei Skorobogatov, from the University of Cambridge Computer Science Laboratory and controversially stated that they found a backdoor in a military grade FPGA device that could be exploited to access / modify sensitive information. [5] [6] [7] It has been said that this problem has been overcome and that it has been deliberated that it should be avoided. [8] [9]
  • In 2012 two mobile phones developed by Chinese device manufacturer ZTE have been found to carry a backdoor to instantly gain access via a password that has been hard-coded into the software. Reviews This was confirmed by security researcher Dmitri Alperovitch . [10]
  • In 2013 Researchers with the University of Massachusetts have a method of breaking down the Intel’s random number generator . [11]
  • Documents revealed during the surveillance disclosures initiated by Edward Snowden showed that the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit and other NSA employees intercepted servers, routers, and other network devices. [12] [13] These tools include custom BIOS exploits that survive the reinstallation of operating systems and USB cables with spy hardware and radio transceiver packed inside. [14]
  • In June 2016 it was reported that the University of Michigan’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science built a hardware backdoor that it would it does not matter which way to go to PC – that contains the backdoored chip. In the study that won the “best paper” award at the IEEE Symposium on Privacy and Security a chip factory [15] [16]
  • In September 2016 Dr. Skorobogatov showed how much he had removed a NAND chip from an iPhone 5C – the main memory storage system used on many Apple devices – and cloned it so that he can try out more incorrect combinations than allowed by the attempt-counter. [17]


See also: Trusted Platform Module and UEFI secure boot

Dr. Skorobogatov has developed a technique capable of detecting malicious insertions into chips. [9]

New York University Tandon School of Engineering Researchers-have Developed a way to corroborate a chip’s operation using verifiable computing whereby “Manufactured for sale” Contain crisps year Embedded Audit Module That Proves the chip’s calculations proper are and an associated external unit validates the embedded verification module. [8] Another technique developed by UCL researchers on distributing trust between multiple identical chips from disjoint supply chains. Assuming that at least one of those chips remains intact. [18]


See also: Electronics industry in China

The world’s largest manufacturer of hardware is China which gives it unqualed capabilities for hardware backdoors. [1] Michael Maloof, a senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, states the Chinese government ordered backdoors to be made by Huawei and ZTE Corporation. -terrorism law that requires telecommunications operators and Internet service providers to provide the Chinese government with “backdoor” access to their products. [8]

See also

  • Clipper chip
  • FBI-Apple encryption dispute
  • Hardware security
  • Trojan Hardware
  • Intel Active Management Technology § Security
  • Zombie Zero
  • Open hardware
  • Code signing


  1. ^ Jump up to:d “Rakshasa: The hardware backdoor that China could embed in every computer – ExtremeTech” . ExtremeTech. 1 August 2012 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  2. Jump up^ Waksman, Adam (2010), “Tamper Evident Microprocessors” (PDF) ,Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy , Oakland, California
  3. Jump up^ Smith, Craig. The Car Hacker’s Handbook: A Guide for the Penetration Tester . No Starch Press. ISBN  9781593277031 . Retrieved 22 January2017 .
  4. Jump up^ Wagner, David. Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 2008: 28th Annual International Cryptology Conference, Santa Barbara, CA, USA, August 17-21, 2008, Proceedings . Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN  9783540851738 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  5. Jump up^ Mishra, Prabhat; Bhunia, Swarup; Tehranipoor, Mark. Hardware IP Security and Trust . Springer. ISBN  9783319490250 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  6. Jump up^ “Hardware-Hack: Backdoor in China-Chips entdeckt?” (in German). CHIP Online . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  7. Jump up^ “Hackers Could Access US Weapons Systems Through Chip” . CNBC. 8 June 2012 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:c “Self-checking chips Could Eliminate hardware security issues – TechRepublic” . Tech Republic . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  9. ^ Jump up to:b “Cambridge Scientist Defends Claim That US Military Chips Made In China Have ‘backdoors ‘ ” . Business Insider . Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  10. Jump up^ Lee, Michael. “Researchers find backdoor ZTE on Android phones | ZDNet” . ZDNet . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  11. Jump up^ “Researchers find new, ultra-low-level method of hacking CPUs – and there’s no way to detect it – ExtremeTech” . ExtremeTech. September 16, 2013 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  12. Jump up^ “Photos of an NSA” upgrade “factory show Cisco router getting implant” . Ars Technica . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  13. Jump up^ “NSA’s Secret Toolbox: Offers Spy Gadgets for Every Need” . SPIEGEL ONLINE . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  14. Jump up^ “Your USB cable, spy: Inside the NSA’s catalog of surveillance magic” . Ars Technica . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  15. Jump up^ Greenberg, Andy. “This’ Demonically Clever ‘Backdoor Hides In A Tiny Slice of a Computer Chip’ . WIRED . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  16. Jump up^ Storm, Darlene. “Researchers built devious, undetectable hardware-level backdoor in computer chips” . Computerworld . Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  17. Jump up^ “Hardware hack defeats iPhone passcode security” . BBC News. September 19, 2016 . Retrieved 22 January 2017 .
  18. Jump up^ Vasilios Mavroudis; et al. “A Touch of Evil: High-Assurance Cryptographic Hardware from Untrusted Components” (PDF) . http://backdoortolerance.org/ . Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference SIGSAC on Computer and Communications Security. External link in( help )|website=

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