Phurge links to an IEEE Spectrum story on an interesting DARPA project with some scary implications about just what it is we don't know about what chips are doing under the surface. It's a difficult problem to find invasive or otherwise malicious capabilities built into a CPU; this project's goal is to see whether vendors can find such hardware-level spyware in chips like those used in military hardware. Phurge excerpts: "Recognizing this enormous vulnerability, the DOD recently launched its most ambitious program yet to verify the integrity of the electronics that will underpin future additions to its arsenal. ... In January, the Trust program started its prequalifying rounds by sending to three contractors four identical versions of a chip that contained unspecified malicious circuitry. The teams have until the end of this month to ferret out as many of the devious insertions as they can."
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