INSIGHTS, NEWS & DISCOVERIES
FROM IOACTIVE RESEARCHERS

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inside the IOActive Silicon Lab: Interpreting Images

By Andrew Zonenberg @azonenberg
In the post “Reading CMOS layout,” we discussed understanding CMOS layout in order to reverse-engineer photographs of a circuit to a transistor-level schematic. This was all well and good, but I glossed over an important (and often overlooked) part of the process: using the photos to observe and understand the circuit’s actual geometry.

Optical Microscopy

Let’s start with brightfield optical microscope imagery. (Darkfield microscopy is rarely used for semiconductor work.) Although reading lower metal layers on modern deep-submicron processes does usually require electron microscopy, optical microscopes still have their place in the reverse engineer’s toolbox. They are much easier to set up and run quickly, have a wider field of view at low magnifications, need less sophisticated sample preparation, and provide real-time full-color imagery. An optical microscope can also see through glass insulators, allowing inspection of some underlying structures without needing to deprocess the device.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. If you can see underlying structures in upper-layer images, it can be much easier to align views of different layers. But it can also be much harder to tell what you’re actually looking at! Luckily, another effect comes to the rescue – depth of field.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Got 15 minutes to kill? Why not root your Christmas gift?

By Tao Sauvage
TP-LINK NC200 and NC220 Cloud IP Cameras, which promise to let consumers “see there, when you can’t be there,” are vulnerable to an OS command injection in the PPPoE username and password settings. An attacker can leverage this weakness to get a remote shell with root privileges.

The cameras are being marketed for surveillance, baby monitoring, pet monitoring, and monitoring of seniors.

This blog post provides a 101 introduction to embedded hacking and covers how to extract and analyze firmware to look for common low-hanging fruit in security. This post also uses binary diffing to analyze how TP-LINK recently fixed the vulnerability with a patch.