Hardware Hacking

How safe are our chips?

One of the reasons that we have so many gadgets at low costs, with a regular re-fresh and re-tool of the internals is that many of our computing chips and circuit boards are built overseas in factories that are optimized for low costs and rapid evolution to new technologies. That works fine for consumers, but it presents a problem for a government concerned with security.

Since the fabrication plants are under the control of a foreign government, that means that the military and governments that want to use the same chips that consumers use must vet the designs, and then the end product. This piece talks about the problems with the supply chain that can come from foreign suppliers that might have incentives to allow hardware hacks into the designs at the request of their own governments.

The world continues to grow closer economically, but we still have our own national patriotism and loyalty . We want our own countries to grow and do well, and our companies to grow inside of our own borders. As the stakes raise, will foreign supplies think about introducing backdoors or other hardware hacks into more of our chips? Imagine the problems we might have if our x64 chips contained a way for foreign companies to access our data?

Criminals certainly would love these hardware hacks and as they get more and more sophisticated, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes an attack vector in the future. We might find in the future that we will not only have choices between Intel and AMD, but also choices between domestic produced and foreign produced chips.

Steve Jones


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