Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart June 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Last year, the U.S. Navy bought 59,000 microchips for use in everything from missiles to transponders and all of them turned out to be counterfeits from China.¬†Wired reports the chips weren’t only low-quality fakes, they had been made with a “back-door” and could have been remotely shut down at any time.

If left undiscovered the result could have rendered useless U.S. missiles and killed the signal from aircraft that tells everyone whether it’s friend or foe.¬†Apparently foreign chip makers are often better at making cheap microchips and U.S. defense contractors are loathe to pass up the better deal.

The problem remains with these “trojan-horse” circuits that can be built into the chip and are almost impossible to detect — especially without the original plans to compare them to.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) is now looking for ways to check the chips to make sure they haven’t been hacked in the production process.

Full story at Business Insider


June 28, 2011 at 9:57 pm
Mark says:

Even the military can’t find reputable sources in China.

June 28, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Read the original Wired story and you’ll see Business Insider have misunderstood. There’s no evidence they’ve *actually been sold* chips you can remotely shut down – they’re just investigating how to be more confident they can prevent such a thing from happening in future.

June 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Simon says:

I think my laptop has one of those circuits in it; it keeps shutting down whenever it fancies too.

June 29, 2011 at 2:31 am
Codifier says:

I heard about counterfeit Cisco equipment making its way into government agencies some time ago:

How cool is that if you want to spy on people? Just sell them the surveillance equipment and they’ll install it for you!

June 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm
Aron says:

Hasn’t China been building their military and Navy up? WWIII?

June 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm
alan says:

“The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) is now looking for ways to check the chips”
Just tell the makers, that you have accidentally launched a tomahawk directed straight at them? Or alternatively, request that their engineers submit to interview under MRI scan.

July 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Vernon says:

We should we be surprised? Isn’t this the ultimate result of globalisation?

July 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm
Raymond says:

Cheap nock-offs sure but remote shutdown in ICs, naah hardly the case. It would require an enormous transmitter because receivers on chips without proper antennas often encased in metal cases do not do a great job receiving signals.
The cheap nock-offs and counterfeit hardware is a huge problem though. Just the other week a hacker challenge was one by rigging a wireless logitech mouse and sending it as a gift to the targeted company and the trojan was loaded into the servers and opened the ‘gates’.

As a government or financial institution you will need to thoroughly track the sources of your hardware perhaps again create military grade hardware that has been tracked from A-Z and has extreme specs.


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