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[liberationtech] How to defend against attacks on chips?

Guido Witmond guido at
Sun Jun 16 02:54:35 PDT 2013

On 16-06-13 04:12, Waitman Gobble wrote:
> On Sat, 15 Jun 2013 17:19:14 -0500, Anthony Papillion
> <anthony at>  wrote:
>> But how do we handle hardware attacks? For example, what happens when a
>> chip maker, say Intel, collaborates with the government to allow access
>> to users systems from the chip level? How can we defend against this?

Unless it's tamper resistant hardware, there is always the electron 
microscope to verify the chips itself. It's a big job but could be an 
ongoing graduation project at a few universities in 
China/Russia/Iran/Iraq. I bet they love to present the evidence of 
tampering in an Intel processor.

Other options: in addition to open source, use open hardware designs in 
a FPGA. It's slow and expensive (compared to a standard processor) but 
good enough for GPG. Use the untrusted processor only for entertainment, 
ie decoding movies and playing 3D games.

When the progress in printed (on paper) circuits progresses or self 
printed 3d chips comes of age, we don't have to worry about potential 
backdoors in Intel processors anymore.


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