writes "Information Age reports that the Cambridge University researchers have discovered that a microprocessor used by the US military but made in China contains secret remote access capability, a secret 'backdoor' that means it can be shut off or reprogrammed without the user knowing. The 'bug' is in the actual chip itself, rather than the firmware installed on the devices that use it. This means there is no way to fix it than to replace the chip altogether. 'The discovery of a backdoor in a military grade chip raises some serious questions about hardware assurance in the semiconductor industry,' writes Cambridge University researcher Sergei Skorobogatov. 'It also raises some searching questions about the integrity of manufacturers making claims about [the] security of their products without independent testing.' The unnamed chip, which the researchers claim is widely used in military and industrial applications, is 'wide open to intellectual property theft, fraud and reverse engineering of the design to allow the introduction of a backdoor or Trojan', Does this mean that the Chinese have control of our military information infrastructure asks Rupert Goodwins? 'No: it means that one particular chip has an undocumented feature. An unfortunate feature, to be sure, to find in a secure system — but secret ways in have been built into security systems for as long as such systems have existed.'"
Even though this story has been blowing-up on Twitter, there are a few caveats. The backdoor doesn't seem to have been confirmed by anyone else, Skorobogatov is a little short on details, and he is trying to sell the scanning technology used to uncover the vulnerability.