Friday, February 12, 2010

"Unhackable" Infineon Chip Physically Cracked

Former U.S. military security specialist Christopher Tarnovsky found a weakness in Infineon's SLE66 CL PE and presented the results of his hack at the Black Hat 2010 computer security conference. The Infineon chip is used in PCs, satellite TV hardware, and gaming consoles to protect secure data.

Tarnovsky, who works for security firm Flylogic, said that cracking the Infineon chip, which has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) designation, was a long process involving an electronic microscope (which retails for around $70,000). The attack on the chip took six months to plan and execute, and it involved dissolving the outer part of the chip with acid and using tiny needles to intercept the chip's programming instructions.

After gaining physical access to the chip, Tarnovsky still had to navigate the chip's software defenses. According to the Associated Press, Tarnovsky remarked that "This chip is mean, man--it's like a ticking time bomb if you don't do something right." pcworld

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