RECON 2023: Adventures of My Oven (Pinocchio) with ChipWhisperer

At RECON2023 I gave a talk about reverse engineering my Samsung Oven. This blog post has slides & links to information, with more to come! You can get a copy of the slides below:

Oven-Specific Stuff:
Python Loader for TMP91 Series:
Resource CD for TLCS900:

Danni Build – Feb 11/23

  • Hours: 8
  • Parts complete: 1 (lateral support), 2 (cylinder support), 3 (frame base)
Test assembly of three parts built today. The parts come pre-milled, so this was mostly time spent getting setup.

Start of build. Lots of marking & drilling of items, which was done on a milling machine with DRO. Having the DRO read-out is useful here rather than marking pieces I found. I had mounted cheap iGaging DROs to a small X2 mini-mill, there is a YouTube Video of how I did this. Here is drilling some holes in part 1:

There is a mention in the instructions of making a bushing when making part 3 (frame base) to center it. The instructions say to drill a 7.1mm hole, but that will be too large. Instead measure the actual cross diameter of the piece & drill a hole slightly smaller than this. I used a 3/8 stock drilled with a H bit (G would have been better I think, as I had to clamp it a little ‘too much’):

New England Hardware Security Day 2022 Talk

On April 1st, 2022 I gave a “workshop” at New England Hardware Security Day. This blog post is a quick summary of some of the links to recreate my demos from that talk. Here is a copy of the slides if you’d like them:

DFA on Raspberry Pi with PicoEMP

Pi on Pi Violence

This demo is pretty simple – it recreates the classic DFA attack on RSA (I find David’s description great here, or you can see my Hardware Hacking Handbook which includes another derivation of it using a different method).

You can see the full code source in my repo from Hackaday Remoticon 2021. That repo just includes the R-Pi Python side (it also makes reference to voltage glitching, which I showed in the talk as another way to perform the demo).

You’ll need to install a specific version of pycryptodome along with a library that performs the analysis afterwards:

pip install pycryptodome==3.1
sudo apt-get install python3-gmpy2

From there you can run – if you run it as-is it will sit there waiting for a fault. If you don’t have a FI generator or just want to see it work, simply uncomment the lines that include some example fault output.

The actual fault injection in my demo was done with the PicoEMP. This is a low-cost/open-source EMFI tool. Critically it doesn’t require dangerous exposure to high voltage that some other open-source tools inherently present.

Watch out with this demo – it can be annoying as you crash the R-Pi a lot while dialing it in! And it can take a while to boot, but I gaurantee you it will work!

RISC-V Soft-Core

This demo was based on one of the targets that will come with the ChipWhisperer-Husky, an iCE40 based FPGA target.

The soft-core in question is the excellent NEORV32 RISC-V core. I find that core’s got great documentation. You don’t need to build the core to use the existing design, as the ChipWhisperer repo has a pre-built binary of the FPGA image. So you can compile software for that image. But it’s fun to build your own core!

Hardware ECC Attacks

This demo uses the ChipWhisperer CW305 board (here in the A35 variant), which has a series of nice ECC jupyter notebook tutorials . These tutorials will walk you through how the entire attack works:

The jupyter labs.

The ECC core is based on the excellent and open-source CrypTech project.

We have a detailed write-up of the attack that can also be helpful to see!

Apple AirTag Teardown & Test Point Mapping

What’s inside of Apple’s new AirTag? There was already an iFixIt teardown (which I swear was missing a few items that are there now), but of course was curious to see what sort of protection was enabled. Notably the nRF chip used is likely vulnerable to a known bypass of security as well. With that in mind, I set out to see how we could dump some data from this thing – the good news is you can access a lot of interesting stuff (including the SPI flash) right from the backside, which requires you to simply pop the first plastic cover off. This is super-easy to do without damaging anything. Going further than that is tricky to keep it all intact.

Apple AirTag with Numbered Test Points

If you want to jump right to the answers, check out my AirTag-RE repo on github where I list the known test points that will be of interest. You can also see my twitter thread where I started the teardown:

Analog Discover Pro Teardown

NOTE: This was going to be a twitter thread but twitter was down? So this is a lazy blog post…

Analog Discovery Pro 3000 Series: Portable High Resolution Mixed Signal  Oscilloscopes - Digilent
Analog Discovery Pro (from Digilent Website)

Anyone used to Digilent would expect this to be based on Zynq or similar – the fact the device has USB + ethernet ports makes it a pretty much sure thing! Taking the screws off the bottom gives us this view:

The upper left has a BGA with a heatsink on it – nothing too serious so a small Zynq maybe, or a helper FPGA? The power supplies and similar are all well labeled.

The ADC is a AD9648 – two of them on the 4-channel device. There are a few analog parts you can see, but a lot is hidden behind that metal shield:

Moving the metal shield up reveals it’s mostly just the relays for range switching:

Switching back to digital section, we can see the routing of the Digital IO goes to that BGA part, with DDR memory beside it:

Experimenting with Metastability and Multiple Clocks on FPGAs

NOTE: This article appeared in Issue 293 of Circuit Cellar, back in December 2014. I’ve posted it here for your reading pleasure as well. References to previous articles are for Circuit Cellar Issues, as this was originally written for the print publication. This version differs slightly from the print version – this is my own ‘author copy’ version before the Circuit Cellar editing. References to “” are broken for now, but material has been mirrored to the bottom of this page.

One of the most critical aspects of any FPGA design is where two clock domains meet. The general rule is to avoid this at all costs, but there are situations where it’s unavoidable. A simple situation is shown in Fig. 1, where our system is receiving data from an ADC, but speaking on a common bus. The ADC sample rate is generated from an external source, and might change for specific applications.

Figure 1: Systems such as this make it impossible to avoid multiple clock domains: the output of the ADC will be based on some external clock, and we also have some bus interface with a completely different clock. At some point data from the ADC clock domain must pass into the bus clock domain.

BAM BAM!! On Reliability of EMFI for in-situ Automotive ECU Attacks

This post is a summary of some work on an accepted paper for ESCAR EU 2020. This work was demonstration on certain NXP chips & GM ECUs, but the idea of both the attack & understanding how portable results are is applicable across the entire domain.

NOTE TO CAR TUNERS: I won’t perform this for hire on your ECU, please don’t email me asking this. The cost for me to do this type of work under hire would also be many times the HPTuners fee, and without any of of the actual tuning interface (I’m only attacking the bootloader, I never ever built a reflash tool that would be needed, yet alone the mapping work etc).

You can find links to:
🔧 The full technical paper in PDF
🔧 The talk slides in PDF
🔧 YouTube “video log” during work: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This work was presented as a way to help automotive system designers understand the “real” threat to their systems, something that is hard to do when tuners hide their methods for commercial reasons. While I don’t know if the method I’m presenting is used by the car tuners, I assume some variant of it has been before (I doubt I’m the “true” discoverer). As I mentioned in the paper, I’m also not the first to turn EMFI onto automotive devices in an academic setting (another nice paper ref’d is the Safety != Security work). One contribution of my work is it directly talks about practicality, something critical for threat modelling but often skipped due to how messy this is. You can build the attack into a “portable rig” as shown here in a final demonstration:

Complete attack demonstration showing potential for a fully portable version.

This portable rig is designed to show something along the lines of “pro garage” or “tuner garage” capabilities. It doesn’t need a ton of expertise to execute the attack, and opening up ECUs and probing them is widely done as part of regular tuning already (often called a type of “bench flash”). The real research wasn’t done with the Arduino setup, but instead using ChipWhisperer as part of the triggering with Python scripts searching:

The science version of the hardware lab has a more flexible design.

The Arduino demonstration shown previously is not usable as-is for tuning. It’s very fiddly and hasn’t been optimized, so I can’t productize what was shown there easily (you can tell I get sick of people looking for tuning solutions…).

The attack is possible on these devices, as they have a hardware bootloader enabled with some pin on the board. This requires you to short that pin to GND to enter the bootloader mode, at which point the device is looking for a password. Using electromagnetic fault injection, you can bypass the password check such that an incorrect password is accepted.

You can use power analysis to discover some of the timing, as done in the paper. Comparing a good password to a bad password shows a clear point in time where the password logic differs:

Interestingly, you can also see the red “incorrect password” trace appears to spin into an infinite loop (or similar), which would be around cycle 100 on the above figure.

As an important caveat: EMFI works against almost any microcontroller. Thus there is no “flaw” in the NXP MCU or GM usage of it, many other devices can be attacked using this same technique. The NXP MCU has long-term support (meaning it sticks around 15+ years), and was designed long before fault injection was on the radar of these devices as a realistic threat.

See the full paper for more details of the work.

FPGA Board Design Tips

NOTE: This article appeared in Issue 315 of Circuit Cellar, back in October 2016. I’ve posted it here for your reading pleasure as well. References to previous articles are for Circuit Cellar Issues, as this was originally written for the print publication. This version differs slightly from the print version – this is my own ‘author copy’ version before the Circuit Cellar editing.

Back in December 2015, I discussed how I solder BGA devices (such as FPGAs) using a low-cost reflow oven. This article will discuss the design of the FPGA board itself, which you could then assemble using the tips in my previous article.

I’ll assume you have a rough idea of what external parts you need, as they will be highly dependant on what you are trying to accomplish with your design. In addition to design-specific information, there are a few standards external requirements such as programming interface, communications, and power. This article will briefly cover some of these external requirements, but the concentration of this article is how to physically lay-out the FPGA board at a reasonable cost.

Some of the topics I covered previously too – for example in my June 2015 article I discussed the use of a generic USB microcontroller as a FPGA interface chip, which is very useful if you need to shuffle data to/from the FPGA.

So let’s assume you have a (mostly) complete schematic, and are wondering how to make this a reality. Let’s start with setting a target goal in terms of board requirements.

PCB Specifications

Assuming this design will be either a prototype run or possibly a small production run, it makes sense to design your PCB with specific requirements in mind to keep costs reasonable. The two PCB specifications you are most commonly told are the minimum “trace/space” (that is, minimum width of a trace, and minimum spacing between copper features), and the minimum drill size.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I’m often using an overseas PCB fab at, although many other options are worth trying. They offer a variety of trace/space and drill size options, so I’ll target a 5 mil space/trace with 0.2 mm drill. This is a fairly “standard” technology option, so shouldn’t be a problem when moving towards a small production run (i.e., Qty 100-200).

To give you an idea of what we’re working with, Figure 1 shows an example of the final PCB I designed and assembled. This uses a Spartan 6 LX45 FPGA with an Atmel SAM3U microcontroller for high-speed USB communications.

Figure 1: This 6-layer PCB features a Spartan 6 LX45 FPGA, an Atmel SAM3U microcontroller, and a 10-bit ADC. I’ll overview some of my experiences designing this board in this column.

Square Terminal Teardown

Part-way through the Square Terminal Teardown

I recently tore down a square terminal (the one with the LCD screen) and wanted to share some of these results. I haven’t photographed everything as was mostly interested in how the secure areas of it are down. You can see an overview in the following video if you want to see how the whole thing fits together.

Teardown of Square Terminal Video

You can pull the main boards out to boot the thing on your bench (WARNING: as you see in the video above, this will trip the tamper circuits and destroy the device from being able to register/use):

Benching the boards – tamper shield removed from secure device (more on that later).

To start with the boring, here is the android board. It uses an APQ8039 (SnapDragon 615) as the main processor, with a KMQE60013M-B318 which integrates NAND (Emmc) and LPDDR in one package.

Alright, cool enough? While let’s get into the main stuff. There is a “security board” which I talk about in the following video:

This board features: MK21FX512 main microcontroller, a TDA9034 smartcard interface, a “Square K400Q”, a Cirque ICA037 touch controller, STM32F0, TS3A44159RGTR (analog mux), Lattice ICE5LP2K FPGA. Here’s a photo of the board with the taper screen removed:

The tamper shield covers all of those test pads. Here’s a photo of the tamper screen:

Very conveniently (for us), Square has filed a number of patents related to the tamper. In particular, here and here feature this exact cover:

I had measured out the connections, but the patent itself detailed them:

They patent also explains the land patterns on the PCB. The extra rings around it are for guard rings – if someone were to squirt some conductive glue into the enclosure, they would also trip the guard ring. Cool!

The other question of what is the Square K400Q device, which has a 13.56 MHz crystal hanging off it? While it turns out Square acquired a company called Kili Technology. And Kili Technology had a product called the K400Q, which is also in QFN-56 package. You can find the product page here (thanks to No full datasheet, but it does have a short product brief:

What else is in it? Unclear exactly, but I would bet it’s using an enSilica RISC processor based on this press release. Unfortunately there aren’t public tools for it, although Lauterbach supports it in some form.

Finally – where is that security mesh handled? In my video I trace out some of it – the backup battery seems to run across the mesh on one side. The otherside seems to route to the STM32F0 processor. So it might be that the STM32F0 is performing some of the security mesh checking, which then triggers the Secure Destroy Interface (SDI) on the Square K400Q microcontroller. The STM32F0 has some epoxy blocking a few pins (very suspicious) as does the analog mux. The analog mux has some interesting-looking signals on it that make me suspect it is also part of the security mesh.

As a small side-note: all those test pads are right at the edge of the mesh. I haven’t tested yet, but I’m curious if you can dig down ‘under’ the shield without tripping anything. Or a very very fine shim may fit between the PCB & shield perhaps. Lots of stuff to test!

But that’s all for now. Project has been shelved for a bit, but hopefully you enjoy this look into the Square teardown!

MINOR UPDATE: I removed the epoxy around the STM32F0 – it looks like it might be near the mesh, but the mesh isn’t actually routing to the STM32F0 inputs (not 100% clear yet). The mesh seems to power the backup power for the MK21 instead, so it’s clear more effort is needed. Next step will be to remove the BGA on the MK21 so can probe where the mesh is going exactly.

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