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“In the blink of an eye: There goes your AES key”

30 May

“In the blink of an eye: There goes your AES key” is the new research paper by Sergei Skorobogatov, the researcher over at Cambridge University.

Really if you get the chance, down load all of his research and take a read, there is some really excellent research contained in the papers.

This new research ties into extracting the keys from FPGA’s and Asics, in particular the “proAsic” range from Actel.
The papers can be found at the following links:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-630.pdf
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/AES_in_the_blink_draft.pdf
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/Silicon_scan_draft.pdf

The last paper “Breakthrough silicon scanning discovers backdoor in military chip” is the one the press have latched onto for the current round of “lookout the Chinese are going to get us”, specifically because Actel manufacture the ProAsic chip in a Chinese foundry, so it “must be the Chinese”.
In reality the researchers found “remnants of code” that point to known functionality in the Actel development kit.
This may well indicate that the “backdoor” was actually known about and inserted by Actel.
The question here of course is WHY would an american company insert a Backdoor into a Chip used by Thousands of manufacturers world wide for security.
In particular the access gives the ability to extract the raw bitstream programming data from the Chip, exactly the content that the chip is supposedly designed to protect.

 

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