Researcher cracks "unhackable" Infineon chip

A security researcher has reportedly managed to crack the “unhackable” Infineon SLE 66 CL PE chip. The nearly ubiquitous Infineon is typically found in computers, gaming systems, identity cards and various electronic devices.

According to Dark Reading, Christopher Tarnovsky offered a detailed, “step-by-step” account of his electron microscopy exploits at the Black Hat Conference in DC.

“I’m not saying it was easy, but this technology is not as secure as some vendors would like you to think,” said Tarnovsky.

Indeed, the researcher revealed that he had bypassed the chip’s complex security layers by using a “painstaking process” of analysis.

“Tarnovsky was able to identify the core and create a ‘bridge map’ that enabled the bypass of its complex web of defenses, which is set up to disable the chip if tampering occurs,” explained Dark Reading’s Tim Wilson.

“After creating the map, he used ultra-small needles to tap into the data bus – without disturbing the protective mesh – and essentially ‘read’ all of the chip’s stored data, including encryption keys and unique manufacturing information.”

Tarnovsky also warned that criminals could theoretically exploit the gleaned data to re-create the chip and develop counterfeit devices or subvert “widely used” systems.

“Such exploits could allow criminals to break through the defenses of pay TV services, medical ID systems, or even Microsoft’s much-vaunted Xbox license chip,” he added.