Researchers at the Cambridge University have discovered a secret back-door in American military chips manufactured in China.
"The backdoor was found to exist on the silicon itself, it was not present in any firmware loaded onto the chip. Using Pipeline Emission Analysis (PEA), a technique pioneered by QVL we were able to extract the secret key to activate the backdoor. This way an attacker can disable all the security on the chip, reprogram the AES key, access unencrypted configuration bitstream or permanently damage the device. Clearly this means the device is wide open to intellectual property theft, fraud, re-programming and reverse engineering of the design to allow the introduction of a new backdoor or Trojan. Most disturbingly, it is not possible to patch the backdoor in chips already deployed which means those using this type of chip have to live with the fact it can be easily compromised or they will have to be physically replaced after a redesign of the silicon itself." http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/sec_news.html#Assurance
Trojans and worms are very suitable to exploit back-doors like this, and maybe it has already happened? In 2010, the worm Stuxnet (Link) targeted with marksman's precision certain Siemens industrial equipment in Iran (read: that the centrifuges used to process nuclear fuel), in a way that most experts agree could only happen with nation-state support, and the US and/or Israel are high up on the list of suspects. In 2007, Israel made an air assault on targets in north-eastern parts of Syria. What was a bit "peculiar" about this, was how the Syrian state-of-the-art Radar System went down prior to the attack and could not warn about the attack. It wasn't long before military and technology bloggers concluded that this was an incident of electronic warfare - and not just any kind. Post after post speculated that the commercial off-the-shelf microprocessors in the Syrian radar might have been purposely fabricated with a hidden ”backdoor” inside. By sending a preprogrammed code to those chips, an unknown antagonist had disrupted the chips' function and temporarily blocked the radar. http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors ... ill-switch
Question is who put in those back-doors? China? The US? The chip designers on their own initiatives? 99% of all CPU's are manufactured in China, but mostly they are designed and ordered by US (or other western) corporations, like Intel, AMD, TI, Apple, etc. Pentagon alone buys about 1% of the worlds entire processor production. And as mentioned above, US/Israel can have used those back-doors already. On the other hand, another peculiar event was when Iran hacked a US stealth drone and managed to land it safely and take it into their possession(http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12 ... -hack-gps/
), and many speculations about this suggests involvement/help from China in order to accomplish this.
Anyway, no matter who put in those back-doors, they go both ways; now when they are known they can be used by anyone with the appropriate know-how...
This blog has a lot of information on the discussion:http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/
Kamlyuk said Flame can copy and steal data and audio files, turn on a computer microphone and record all the sounds in its vicinity, take screen shots, read documents and emails, and capture passwords and logins.http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 6511.story
The program can communicate with other computers in its radius via the infected computer's Bluetooth capability and locate their whereabouts even without an Internet connection, he said.