[Freedombox-discuss] Backdoor in military chips may also be in Freedombox

Rick Hodgin foxmuldrster at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 28 16:41:15 UTC 2012

I wrote:
"Still ... we have no proof, and we have other people telling us flatly that it's not true."

The other I'm specifically talking about was the lead architect of Intel's vPro back in 2008 when I wrote that article.

As a journalist, I would from time to time encounter people in the semiconductor industry and I would ask them if such "Big Brotheresque" features were in their chips.  This included AMD's (then quad-core Phenom/II CPUs only), and the answer was always no.

I'd even prod them a little and say "C'mon, off the record."  They always gave an answer no.  No further details could ever be extracted were any actually to be there to be extracted.

And we are hearing on many other articles which pop up from time to time about how things do not exist, and later we find out they did.  ECHELON was one of them (the ability for all cell phones to be completely compromised behind-the-scenes while appearing outwardly to be working correctly), for example.

Debugging abilities to access a chip's internals are a natural part of the design cycle.  They are purposefully programmed into modern day CPUs, but are not used in production chips.

Look at the number of unused pins in the modern 1000+ pin CPUs.  Many are are there for future expansion, but undoubtedly some of them are used for debugging in pre-A0 silicon, which is used only internally for test purposes.

I believe what you're saying though is that in that AMD chip I have in my home computer, there are debug ports which are enabled and open connected through to the motherboard chipset, and were the correct entity able to reach into my computer through ethernet, for example, that they would be able to access information within the CPU, which could access main memory, motherboard resources, hard disk data, etc.?

This is what Intel's vPro theoretically can do.  And I would not be surprised to learn that AMD has something similar inside its chips.  However, without HyperThreading it makes it a little more difficult to do.  I believe Intel's HyperThreading abilities afford Intel the ability to inject any code it wants at any time without affecting the normal operations of the machine.  Total theory.  Total conjecture.  Not an ounce of proof to back any of it up.  But, it makes sense.

In any regard, an interesting mental exercise and conversation. :-)

Best regards,
Rick C. Hodgin

--- On Thu, 6/28/12, freebirds at hushmail.com <freebirds at hushmail.com> wrote:

> From: freebirds at hushmail.com <freebirds at hushmail.com>
> Subject: [Freedombox-discuss] Backdoor in military chips may also be in Freedombox
> To: freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org
> Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 12:30 PM
> Hash: SHA1
> Tim Schmidt, I did not write that "there's some secret
> military key
> in every chip since 1973." I wrote that a hidden debugger
> was found
> in AMD's processor and that the U.S. military's processor
> has a
> debugger. I did not say that there is a military chip or
> debugger
> in all chips or in the Freedombox. I am requested that
> Freedombox
> ask ARM and  Marvell if there is a debugger, ARM's
> TrustZone,
> antitheft and a visible PSN.
> Tim Schmidt, your demand for code is unreasonable. The
> articles do
> not give code. I am not a programmer. The Russian scientist
> who
> discovered AMD's debugger could not decode it. Nor would I
> be able
> to.
> Please be reasonable! Some are you are so skeptical! If I
> made
> claims of hardware that did not exist, you can call me
> delusional.
> However, everything I have asked you to ask Marvell and ARM
> do
> exist in other processors and may exist in the Freedom's
> processor.
> I am not making false claims on why debuggers, ARM's
> TrustZone, PSN
> are there. They do function. They are not invisible. They
> are a
> privacy and a security threat.
> Rick C. Hodgin, can you clarify who "others" are in your
> sentence
> that others deny a key. By key do you mean a debugger?
> Could you please post complete specifications on the
> processor on
> your
> website including whether or not there is a debugger, ARM's
> TrustZone and a visible PSN. Thank you.
> Charset: UTF8
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