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Power Use Reveals Harmful Chips Hidden on Circuit Boards

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Devices on a printed circuit board.

Circuit boards are so complex that they can’t be designed or analyzed fully by humans, and require automated tools to engineer.

Credit: raigvi/Shutterstock

A circuit board's power consumption can reveal malicious tampering designed to facilitate Trojan attacks to steal sensitive data or crash a device when triggered.

Huifeng Zhu and colleagues at Washington University created the PDNPulse test to analyze a printed circuit board's power consumption in order to identify tampering by comparing it to a device known to be secure.

PDNPulse looks for small variations in such a so-called "fingerprint" of power consumption, based on measurement at several points.

Using the test, the researchers were able to detect Trojan modifications on various circuit boards with perfect accuracy.

While no firm evidence has been found to prove a circuit board-based Trojan attack has actually happened, Theodore Markettos at the U.K.'s University of Cambridge said he believes in the concept's feasibility.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2022 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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