Disassembling and Patching Hardware

Presented at REcon 2006, June 16, 2006, 5 p.m. (60 minutes)

Many security systems are beginning to rely on hardware-based techniques to raise the difficulty of attacking a system. As a result, a basic understanding of circuit boards and what they mean can often times be helpful.

In this session, bunnie will introduce the topic of reading and understanding circuit boards. We will learn what the basic components look like, and how to determine their function in a circuit. We will then quickly ascend to taking a higher-level approach toward systems and review some common circuit layout techniques that are useful to recognize when reversing a hardware system.

The session will conclude with a live demo of taking apart a simple piece of hardware, deriving its function, and then patching the circuit to extract key signals.


  • bunnie as Bunnie
    bunnie is the hardware factotum for a stealth-mode startup called Chumby Industries, Inc. His primary responsibility is the architecture and design of the core electronics. Wielding a PhD in EE garnered from MIT in 2002, he has jousted with several projects, ranging from hacking the Xbox (and writing the eponymous book), to designing photonic-silicon chips running at 10 Gbps, to building some of the first prototype hardware for silicon nanowire device research. He has also participated in the design of 802.11b/Bluetooth transceivers, graphics chips, digital cinema CODECs, and autonomous robotic submarines, as well as the un-design of many security systems, with an appetite for the challenge of digesting silicon-based hardware security.


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