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CAPEC-521: Hardware Design Specifications Are Altered

Attack Pattern ID: 521
Abstraction: Detailed
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+ Description
An attacker with access to a manufacturer's hardware manufacturing process documentation alters the design specifications, which introduces flaws advantageous to the attacker once the system is deployed.
+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity


+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.447Design Alteration
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Prerequisites
Advanced knowledge of hardware capabilities of a manufacturer's product.
Access to the manufacturer's documentation.
+ Skills Required
[Level: High]
Ability to read, interpret, and subsequently alter manufacturer's documentation to cause errors in design specifications.
[Level: High]
Ability to stealthly gain access via remote compromise or physical access to the manufacturer's documentation.
+ Mitigations
Digitize documents and cryptographically sign them to verify authenticity.
Password protect documents and make them read-only for unauthorized users.
Avoid emailing important documents and configurations.
Ensure deleted files are actually deleted.
Maintain backups of the document for recovery and verification.
Separate need-to-know information from system configuration information depending on the user.
+ Example Instances
To operate at full capability, a manufacturer's network intrusion detection device needs to have either a Intel Xeon E7-2820 or AMD FX-8350 which have 8 "cores" available, allowing for advanced threading needed to handle large volumes of network traffic without resorting to dropping packets from the detection process. The attacker alters the documentation to state that the system design must use the Intel Core Duo or the AMD Phenom II X2, which only have 2 cores, causing the system to drop large amounts of packets during deployment at a victim site with large amounts of network traffic.
+ References
[REF-439] John F. Miller. "Supply Chain Attack Framework and Attack Patterns". The MITRE Corporation. 2013. <>.
[REF-715] Marie Prokopets. "How To Secure Your Documents". Nira. <>. URL validated: 2022-02-21.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(Version 2.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
(Version 2.7)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns, Typical_Likelihood_of_Exploit
(Version 3.7)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Mitigations, References
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018