To Backdoor or Not?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Jayson Wylie

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There is currently a scare or anticipation of the implementation of alternate access methods into technology software, devices and chipsets.

A backdoor can be defined as an access method that bypasses the traditional authentication means typically known and used by the system.

A recent news story depicts a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chip that is said to have been made by Actel now Microsemi, a Chinese firm, having a detected backdoor.

This can immediately set fire to public concern of cyber aggressive nation-states and makes us all feel a little bit uneasy with any electronic device or system used.

There is more speculation than solid facts to go on at this point, and some can speculate along the lines of following author who is more curious about the inexpensive hardware used to find it:

Chinese Cyber warriors in your Chips

I really don’t care if these things can be found with pocketknife and a penny picked up off the street!

Any “whistleblower’s” findings should be followed up on, especially if the components are widely found in US military and commercial applications, in a sensible world.

The FBI Content Monitoring Backdoors and Going Dark

There is additional speculation of purposeful implementations for communications monitoring on and off the Internet by the US government in the name of national security but this is not a new mindset.

Are they the same?

The easy answer is yes and no.  According to the reports, the FPGA’s had another, yet semi-secured avenue to wipe or reprogram the chip.  It would be mostly be in a closed-system and this may not be accessible.

I don’t believe I am an offender to be found by monitoring the communication by the US government but it really depends on the government.

I could probably offend whole sections of the world if they know what I feel about them and their qualities, approach or culture.

If there is the ability through any technical design for a government to monitor communication, how can we be assured that another government is not using the same means but for different purpose when designed to be able to do so?

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China Access Control Vulnerabilities Military Cyberwar Espionage Monitoring backdoor Chips FPGA Processors
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