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Marcus Janke and Dr. Peter Laackmann focus on the first challenge a smart card hacker would encounter – the appropriate preparation of a microchip from its environment for further analysis and attacks.
The direct sight on microchips, especially on their secured variants, is not only impressive and informative, but will also open up interesting opportunities for various security attacks, like demonstrated in their 30C3 overview "25 Years of Smart Card Attacks".Therefore, useful ways of releasing the chips from their packages are needed in order to get access to the chip's surface without destroying the device.
The authors open up their bag of tricks, filled with physical and chemical methods that can be used to carefully liberate the silicon from its environment. These packages include smart cards, tags as well as standard packages for microcontrollers and special enclosures.
Creative methods for amateurs and inexpensive ways for "domestic use" are depicted, including the manufacture of specialized devices and the production of dedicated preparation chemicals. For comparison, professional methods are presented in parallel, giving insight into today's industrial processes of chip preparation for reverse engineering.
The authors look back to over 25 years of private security research and nearly 20 years of professional engagement. They held their first chipcard talks and workshops 1991-93 at the CCC congress in the Eidelstädter Bürgerhaus.