Researchers have recently discovered the plausibility of hacking a computer chip for unauthorized users to have backdoor access to a system. Microprocessors now join the list of devices that can be hacked, following printers, digital photo frames, pacemakers, and even cars.
In a report by PC World, a microprocessor was hacked by altering a number of circuits on the chip. The modification results to an injection into the microchip’s memory of a malicious firmware. This enables a hacker to log into the system as a legitimate user. This attack, when successfully done, is virtually untraceable to the affected user.
Researchers who discovered this approach described possible scenarios of attack such as the code being added into the chips during development, or the modified chips being installed during computer assembly. This is highly probable as what the trends have shown: the security of new hardware is no longer a certainty with off-the-shelf malware from newly acquired devices such as USB keys, MP3 players, and even the celebrated iPod.
With the required resources to complete such an attack, this microprocessor hacking method might not end up to be every hacker’s weapon of choice. But I reckon that given the resources and under the right circumstances, it will be someone’s choice — then it would be like a robber getting his own set of keys to a house even before the real owner moves in.
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