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[ARS]Researchers can slip an undetectable trojan into Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The attack against the Ivy Bridge processors sabotages random number generator (RNG) instructions Intel engineers added to the processor. The exploit works by severely reducing the amount of entropy the RNG normally uses, from 128 bits to 32 bits. The hack is similar to stacking a deck of cards during a game of Bridge. Keys generated with an altered chip would be so predictable an adversary could guess them with little time or effort required. The severely weakened RNG isn't detected by any of the "Built-In Self-Tests" required for the P800-90 and FIPS 140-2 compliance certifications mandated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Quote:
In an e-mail, Paar stressed that no hardware trojans have ever been found circulating in the real world and that the techniques devised in the paper are mere proofs of concept. Still, the demonstration suggests the covert backdoors are technically feasible. It wouldn't be surprising to see chip makers and certifications groups respond with new ways to detect these subtle changes.

Source
http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/09/researchers-can-slip-an-undetectable-trojan-into-intels-ivy-bridge-cpus/


I hope i did this right and its not a repost. this is my first news post.
Edited by SlowPWNY - 9/21/13 at 8:15am
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post #2 of 16
bad intel news, I love it.
post #3 of 16
I must check peoples rig next time before i go to the freebie section. biggrin.gif
post #4 of 16
Surprised? Welcome to the world we live in.
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post #5 of 16
I feel like this is really overblown. This would never actually work in practice.

To pull it off, you would first need access to Intel's complete processor design, every file and detail, otherwise you wouldn't know which transistors to change the doping on. Then you'd have to remake one or several of the masks Intel uses in the fabrication process. Then you'd have to actually swap the altered mask for the normal mask. If you got any of this process wrong, every wafer manufactured with this mask would fail completely. Unless Intel's security is horrible, this isn't going to happen.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure Intel's testing procedures would find this. Testing procedures are designed to test whether transistors are always on or always off, as that's the main thing that can go wrong. It would really not be that hard to also test the random number generator for "broken," or in this case, altered, transistors. Mind you, I learned that this was done for simple, large process node chips, so maybe it isn't feasible nowadays.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitrubbb View Post

bad intel news, I love it.

Didn't even read the article did you? doh.gif
Quote:
In an e-mail, Paar stressed that no hardware trojans have ever been found circulating in the real world and that the techniques devised in the paper are mere proofs of concept. Still, the demonstration suggests the covert backdoors are technically feasible. It wouldn't be surprising to see chip makers and certifications groups respond with new ways to detect these subtle changes.
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oddworld Abe View Post

Didn't even read the article did you? doh.gif

added a 2nd quote to the OP for people who don't like to read articles tongue.gif
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post #8 of 16

Sandy Bridge here.. Am I safe?

     
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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by djriful View Post

Sandy Bridge here.. Am I safe?
Everyone is safe. The "trojan" needs to be installed during manufacturing. It's a physical change to the hardware and properties of the silicon.
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post #10 of 16
I would not at all be surprised if the NSA did this. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this were done on every CPU manufactured by a United States company, these days.
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