COMMENT: Two of the most neglected aspects of the investigation into the 9/11 attacks are the Ptech company/investigation and Operation Green Quest. In the person of Yaqub Mirza, the two overlap.
Now comes the disclosure that integrated circuits can be implanted with “kill switches” that could enable a malefactor to sabotage critical military and/or civilian operating systems.
How might the Ptech/Yaqub nexus described in the linked article above affect the possible implanting of such “kill switches” in computer chips?
The results might be devastating.
EXCERPT: Federal authorities need to shift more of their attention to computer chips as a platform for a well-organized attack on the United States by would-be saboteurs, warns a well-respected professor in the field of integrated circuits.
Several administration officials are scheduled to testify in front of two House committees Wednesday as Capitol Hill works with them to enact landmark cybersecurity legislation by the end of the summer.
One little-discussed area that they all need to more thoroughly examine is the security measures that should be adopted against malicious hardware that can be secretly implanted in the integrated circuits that control much of the world around us today, John D. Villasenor, professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, told TPM.
“There are literally thousands of people engaged in addressing software security concerns, but there’s very little awareness of the enormous exposure we have with respect to hardware security,” he said. “Chips are in almost everything these days, and in the commercial sector very little effort is directed to making sure they are free of malicious circuitry.”
Chips can be a security risk because a saboteur can slip in one component of hardware into a design that could contain thousands. Modern computer chips can power anything from the flaps of airplanes to the entire electricity system itself.
Integrated circuits pose a particular risk because they have become so complex. They are sourced and put together by suppliers all around the globe, and so it’s difficult to control the process of creating every single part that goes into them.
Villasenor estimates that there are about 1,550 companies around the world involved in designing integrated circuits.
Saboteurs could implant parts that are triggered by certain events to freeze hardware, or they could build in ‘back doors’ that could perform secret actions on devices as it, or whatever system it’s part of, keeps running.
While it all might sound like something out of The Bourne Conspiracy, French chipmakers and defense contractors have apparently already built such capabilities, an industry source told engineering magazine IEEE in 2008.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has already embarked on a project to address the issue with chips powering military equipment. Villasenor said that perhaps industry could take a look to see if they could learn any lessons. . . .