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CAPEC-539: ASIC With Malicious Functionality

ASIC With Malicious Functionality
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 539
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Stub
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

An attacker with access to the development environment process of an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) for a victim system being developed or maintained after initial deployment can insert malicious functionality into the system for the purpose of disruption or further compromise.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The attacker must have working knowledge of some if not all of the components involved in the target system as well as the infrastructure and development environment of the manufacturer.

  • Advanced knowledge about the ASIC installed within the target system.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Low

The nature of these type of attacks involve a coordinated effort between well-funded multiple attackers, and sometimes require physical access to successfully complete an attack. As a result these types of attacks are not launched on a large scale against any potential victim, but are typically highly targeted against victims who are often targeted and may have rather sophisticated cyber defenses already in place.

+ Examples-Instances


A hardware manufacturer periodically updates its ASIC with new features. The attacker, knowing the manufacturer runs email on a system adjacent to the hardware development systems used for ASIC design, sends a phishing email with a malicious attachment to the manufacturer. When viewed, the malicious attachment installs a backdoor that allows the attacker to remotely compromise the adjacent ASIC development system. The attacker is then able to exfiltrate and alter sensitive data on the ASIC system, allowing for future compromise once a new AISC is deployed at the victim location.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: High

Able to develop and manufacture malicious subroutines for an ASIC environment without degradation of existing functions and processes.

+ References
[R.539.1] [REF-50] John F. Miller. "Supply Chain Attack Framework and Attack Patterns". The MITRE Corporation. 2013. <http://www.mitre.org/sites/default/files/publications/supply-chain-attack-framework-14-0228.pdf>.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2015-11-09Updated Related_Attack_Patterns, Typical_Likelihood_of_ExploitInternal

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017