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Ex-Army Man Cracks Popular Security Chip


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Hardware hacker Christopher Tarnovsky just wanted to break Microsoft's grip on peripherals for its Xbox 360 game console. In the process, he cracked one of the most heavily fortified chips ever put into a consumer device.

The attack by the former U.S. Army computer-security specialist is notable because it goes where no hacker has gone before: into the widely used Infineon SLE 66PE, a microcontroller that carries the TPM, or Trusted Platform Module designation of security. The hack means he can access sensitive data and algorithms locked away in the chip's digital vault and even make counterfeit clones that could fool the many devices that rely on it.

"I was very surprised they would put a security chip in a wired controller, as well as a wireless controller," says Tarnovsky, who is principal engineer for Flylogic. "It's very monopolistic what they've done. They have a right to do it, but I have a right to break it too."

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