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DARPA Seeks To Secure Data With Electronics That Dissolve On Command

timothy posted about a year ago | from the get-out-of-the-phone-booth dept.

Security 163

An anonymous reader writes "Electronic devices are built to last, which make them very reliable. However, if during a hostile situation such a device has to be left behind or gets dropped, it will continue to function and could end up giving the enemy an advantage. With that in mind, DARPA has set about creating electronics that work for as long as necessary, but can be destroyed at a moment's notice. The project is called Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR). Its main aim is to develop so-called transient electronics that are capable of dissolving completely, or at the very least to the point where they no longer function. Destroying a VAPR device should be as easy as sending a signal to it or placing the device within certain conditions e.g. extreme heat or cold, that triggers the rapid destruction process."

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163 comments

Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726771)

I would be interested to know why its a "destroy on command" instead of a "sign in to keep working" strategy. Seems like it would be simpler to just have the electronics degrade if not being used by an authorized user.

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#42726869)

That would hand The Enemy an easy method of sabotage. All he would need to do to cripple your gear is to try to use it (like some idiot locking out your account by trying to guess the password... but in this case it's hardware and it's irreversible). Or if it's based on time elapsed since the authorized user was using it, just keep you away from it for that long. If you want the authorized user to be the one to determine when the gear should (and should not) be sacrificed, it has to be "destroy on command".

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about a year ago | (#42727103)

"As always, if you were to fail your mission, DOD will disavow knowledge of your existence. This message will self destruct in 5 seconds."

Current U.S. Landmines do this (4, Informative)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42727371)

"Antipersonnel landmines used by the United States, with the exception of those now warehoused for use in Korea, do not have long-term residual effects because they are self-destructing and/or self-deactivating"

Reference here [nae.edu]

Re:Current U.S. Landmines do this (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727535)

"Antipersonnel landmines used by the United States, with the exception of those now warehoused for use in Korea, do not have long-term residual effects because they are self-destructing and/or self-deactivating"

Yeah just like the summary said:

However, if during a hostile situation such a device has to be left behind or gets dropped, it will continue to function and could end up giving the enemy an advantage.

I guess you gotta think about these things when you constantly create new enemies because you don't have any other effective way to keep your economy afloat. You destroyed your own manufacturing base with "free trade" (it's "free" trade when US regular folk don't have good jobs, but the corporations love the cheap overseas labor!). You don't have anything except Imaginary Property to export and in the Information Age that's not so good for you. Hey war is big BIG business. You need some pointless war every decade or so. It's the only reason the US economy hasn't already tanked. WWII got you out of the Great Depression and your leaders never forgot the lesson. Even if the rest of you did.

So yeah, for freedom, to liberate them, for the flag, for democracy, whatever justification it takes. Long as it's some little nation that isn't REALLY a threat to you. Doesn't matter if they have oil. That's not what you're there for. You're there for the defense contracts and multibillion-dollar budgets. It's so shameful the way honorable people who love their country join the military thinking they're doing a good thing and they end up being used and thrown away for such useless wars.

Re:Current U.S. Landmines do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727615)

That's really great! I was not aware that we'd implemented a fix for the serious problem of abandoned land-mines.

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (2)

clickety6 (141178) | about a year ago | (#42727687)

it has to be "destroy on command".

Troy? Yeah, it's me! I'm on mission, They gave us these new VAPR Pads. Yeah, Troy, they're great. Now I'm here surrounded by all these rice fields looking for the enemy. No, rice fields.... you know, paddies, Troy.

*PAD*DESTROY*

Troy? Hello? Are you there? Why's this bit come off in my hand?

Real world use (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42727723)

That would hand The Enemy an easy method of sabotage.

Only if the designer and/or user of the equipment is rather stupid.

If you want the authorized user to be the one to determine when the gear should (and should not) be sacrificed, it has to be "destroy on command".

It's pretty easy to think of circumstances where you would want it destroyed for anyone except the intended user. Sensitive document transport, various black ops activities, etc. If you are a spy you might very well want your electronics to dissolve unless someone knows the correct password.

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42728121)

Well yes and no. It's not black or white, as usual.

First of all and most importantly: the goal of the ennemy is not to "keep it away from you that long". If they already have it away from you, they can use a hard-disk destroying machine and put your shinny toy in it and it's gone: no need to abuse the "sign in to keep working" to destroy something you already have possession of. The goal of the ennemy capturing, say, one of your drone, is to analyze how it's done.

So the problem with "destroy on command" is that if the ennemy's goal is to gain intelligence insights, the first thing, say, Iran is now going to do once they catch a drone or anything else is bring it under 20 meters of concrete where no signal can pass through and it has defeated the "destroy on command" purpose.

There are certainly use cases for a system that dissolves its electronics once it cannot reach its "masters" for long enough.

I think it's all details anyway: once they have the "dissolving" technology, it's trivial, depending on the use case, to have stuff "destroy on command" and others "destroy when I can't hear any cryptographically signed heartbeat anymore" and others to be "sign in to keep working".

Give me access to the shiny trigger that launches the dissolvent and I'll implement various funny variations ; )

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

Bomazi (1875554) | about a year ago | (#42728215)

The idea is that you have exclusive physical access to the hardware, until you decide to abandon it. If an enemy can separate you from the hardware or access it before you make this decision, you have other problems.

There are plenty of other reasons not to want a system that nags you at regular interval.

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42728529)

in either situation, the whole concept is a failure. What's to guarantee that a: a destroy on command function works, or b: a "only allow authenticated" works? What's to guarantee that either one can be bypassed if someone has the physical device, or forgets to do the "destroy on command"?

This is a sign of people watching too much mission impossible and thinking it's a good thing. They should focus on basic security improvements, not try to go fancy with crap that doesn't even work.

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727497)

I guess you're not old enough to remember the TV show that the Mission: Impossible movies were spun off from. "This message will self-destruct in ten seconds" followed by smoke pouring from the portable reel to reel tape recorder.

I guess the engineers are too young to have seen it, too. Coat the thing with explosive (saltpeter mixed with sugar will do) and all it takes is a match. It could be triggered by the loss of a wifi or bluetooth signal. Where do I get my grant money now?

Re:Sign in to keep vs destroy on command (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42727775)

Explosives or thermite are out of the question - you don't want this thing starting fires in storage or soldiers' pockets.

They should ask Boeing (4, Funny)

flowerp (512865) | about a year ago | (#42726783)

I heard Boeing has some batteries that meet these requirements.

Re:They should ask Boeing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727871)

I offer up my touchsmart tx2z for study. It died one year and a month from the purchase date.

Off to a questionable start (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#42726797)

"Electronic devices are built to last...." Sorry, but you just lost me, right there.

Re:Off to a questionable start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727347)

True for consumer grade. Military grade devices are built to last and function in harsh conditions.

Re:Off to a questionable start (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727917)

"Electronic devices are built to last...." Sorry, but you just lost me, right there.

Maybe you're either buying the wrong devices/parts? I bought a TV in 1968 that was still working in 2002 when I got rid of it. There's a working Apple G3 in my daughter's bedroom. My current TV is ten years old and still going strong. I have a pair of 30 year old loudspeakers (I did have to replace the woofers, the tweeters and squawkers are next).

OTOH I bought a used Sony amplifier that it only took me three months to burn up, and a Pioneer that replaced it that lasted for six. No matter how much or little you pay (you do NOT always get what you pay for, but you usually pay for what you get), if you buy cheap shit, it won't last. Electronics are like everything else; there are rock solid (both expensive and inexpensive) ones that last forever, and there's cheap shit (often expensive) that falls apart a week after the warrantee's up.

There is absolutely no reason whatever for any electronics to go bad, save bad design, cheap parts, or planned obsolescence (which I consider to be Evil with a capital E).

Darpa should talk to the guys who wrote Duke Nukem (1)

NeumannCons (798322) | about a year ago | (#42726805)

They were the top vapor developers for *years*. They've got the talent do this correctly.

Paul

If the Nexus 7 is anything to go by (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#42726807)

You could just as Asus to build them. I don't know anyone who received a functioning model until they'd sent it back at least twice.

Re:Asus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727031)

I only had one DOA out of eight builds. YMMV

Re:If the Nexus 7 is anything to go by (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727239)

i have been building my own PCs for almost 15 years and have never once received a bad board. Now, i have heard they had issues in the mid 90's, but that was like 20 years ago.

Re:If the Nexus 7 is anything to go by (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42727515)

Funny, I was thinking more HP/Compaq... But they wanted "on command", where these would provide "Whenever the mood suits it"...

Existing already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726811)

What problem is with /dev/urandom and dd?

Or how about placing 1g C-4 explosive to storage medium/microboard what can be blow up with command? :D

Re:Existing already (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42727541)

Former is too slow and relies on power... Latter could work if set up right, although thermite on the storage unit would be better. No explosion, more damage to the target.

Re:Existing already (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42727771)

I believe they might take longer than a dissolving disk platter. I can't know that, but I believe that might be the case. DD might be interrupted if your command post is overrun, or penetrated. A simple signal to dissolve is probably irreversible, and depending on the mechanism, might be much faster.

Of course, for dissolving platters to work, I guess you'd have to abandon iron disks, for some kind of a matrix that holds iron in suspension. That might be more complicated, or less, than making plain magnetic iron disks.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726817)

Bucket trap + acid ?

I thought we already knew (2)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#42726841)

Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

Looks like a flaw in the triggering code that allowed the other team to trigger the self-destruct could be a very costly mistake.

Re:I thought we already knew (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#42727131)

Looks like a flaw in the triggering code that allowed the other team to trigger the self-destruct could be a very costly mistake.

TFA is bugging out on my work computer, but I think "battlefield" is the wrong theater to be thinking of for this kind of stuff. The intended use should be for the diplomatic corps. At an embassy in a hostile country, you want your data to be destroyable at a moment's notice. They have superpowered incinerators ready to burn all their documents should something go wrong. This would be an extra layer of security for all their electronic data storage. And the "other team" isn't going to trigger the self-destruct, because they want to see the data, not destroy it.

Re:I thought we already knew (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#42727559)

TFA is about battlefield electronics. Embassies have been using things like thermite-encased hard drives for a very long time already. But the GP raises an interesting question about what happens when an enemy has the ability to press a button and turn all your most critical battlefield C&C gear into slag.

Easy to destroy != Easy to access (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42727799)

But the GP raises an interesting question about what happens when an enemy has the ability to press a button and turn all your most critical battlefield C&C gear into slag.

If it truly is that easy to do then you deserve to lose the battle. Just because something can be destroyed easily doesn't mean it has to be easy for anyone to destroy it.

At your next IPhone contract dispute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726843)

The Company may have the upper hand. "Pay up or your IPhone gets it!"

Obligatory Inspector Gadget (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726855)

This message will self destruct!

Re:Obligatory Inspector Gadget (1)

sh00z (206503) | about a year ago | (#42727165)

Kids these days. Should be "Good morning, Mr. Phelps."

Re:Obligatory Inspector Gadget (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year ago | (#42728211)

>This message will self destruct!

Kids these days. Should be "Good morning, Mr. Phelps."

but nobody under 40 knows what you are talking about.

We already know how to do this... (1)

rmmeyer (84419) | about a year ago | (#42726881)

Obfuscated electronics design contest: solving a simple problem in a complex manner. Destruction of battlefield electronics is not a new science. A small gridwork of thermite inside the case and a small igniter. Trigger how you will.

Don't we have better things to spend research money on?

Re:We already know how to do this... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#42727481)

Obfuscated electronics design contest: solving a simple problem in a complex manner. Destruction of battlefield electronics is not a new science. A small gridwork of thermite inside the case and a small igniter. Trigger how you will.

Sure, and you can also strap a few pounds of C-4 onto it. But it sounds like DARPA wants to design them to literally dissolve, i.e. a non-violent change that won't burn through the case orand kill people nearby if you aren't careful. TFA mentions medical electronics that dissolve in biofluid, so I'm assuming it's similar to that. Cases where using thermite to simply burn the board isn't an option.

As to why, I'm not sure, but it's DARPA, their answer usually tends to be "to see if we can."

Re:We already know how to do this... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42727627)

Just make sure you don't accidentally trigger it while it's on you...

I suspect burning thermite going down your back/legs would be quite painful.

Though if they can do it with the precision to destroy the storage unit but not the casing, that could be ok. I think the idea for dissolving electronics is "If it gets out of the case, nobody gets burning holes cut through their flesh".

Well, until I see it (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#42726891)

It's just VAPRware. Actually after I see it, it's probably VAPRware too.

Re:Magic Smoke (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#42727157)

I saw blue smoke way back in the 60s. I thought this research was already done.

Re:Magic Smoke (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#42727401)

I've destroyed lots of electronics during "experiments" to "improve functionality". It's really easy. Just wire something wrong or let a tool slip and it lets the blue smoke out. As we all know, electronics run on blue smoke and when you let the blue smoke out, they stop working.

Re:Magic Smoke (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42727739)

Now I wish I could find a wiring web page I saw a long time ago.

Something like:

Always wire 5v to 5v, 3v to 3v and 12v to 12v.
5v to ground will make baby jesus cry.
5v to 12v will make baby jesus's head explode.

AN-M14 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726901)

Why not use Thermite? Does DARPA build datacenters in Irak that would take hours to destroy? (Not meant to be sarcastic, I have no fucking clue).

Re:AN-M14 (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#42727061)

That's the current plan --- you have thermite charges to destroy equipment (and sledgehammers to break down and consolidate equipment into suitably small piles), and ``document disintegration barrels'' for all the paperwork --- the problems are:

  - takes time
  - requires warehousing special-purpose munitions which have to be rotated (a water-damaged DDR-55 will _not_ completely burn and when one attempts to destroy it by setting off a thermite charge on top of it will then spew bits of burning thermite in all directions DAMHIKT)
  - requires special training for personnel
  - is not something one wants to be doing on an aircraft or in some other enclosed space

William

Dumb from the first idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726917)

Electronic equipment which are destroyed just sending a signal to it ? Sure I'm pretty sure that the first thing you ennemy will try letting you with nothing else than your eyes to cry ...

suicide battery systems can be done today and they (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726923)

suicide battery systems can be done today and they don't need a command to kill the data.

Re:suicide battery systems can be done today and t (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year ago | (#42727105)

or having a reverse wired circuit on one or more electrolytic capacitors (which would also provide a handy source for a trigger acid)

Simples. (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#42726929)

Destroying a VAPR device should be as easy as sending a signal to it or placing the device within certain conditions e.g. extreme heat or cold, that triggers the rapid destruction process."

That's easy enough.

I just put my phone through the wash. I can assure you that it's quite dead now.

--
BMO

Storage destruction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42726933)

I've often considered rigging a rotating magnetic field mechanism by the HDDs, if only to perplex the pigs. (I'm not a criminal, but I totally expect the random unwarranted intrusion, since I live in the U.S.)

I've developed this already (1)

exploder (196936) | about a year ago | (#42726949)

I have a brilliant design for electronics that stop functioning when exposed to extreme heat. I call them "electronics". I'm willing to license my technology, which is applicable to other resources too, like clothing, houses, and enemy combatants.

At least two purposes (1)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#42726993)

This isn't a specific DARPA program, there are two main goals, which could lead to very distinct classes of techniques:

  • - Self-destruction for electronic to avoid enemy retroengineering
  • - Electronic that disolves itself in organic fluids after medical use in situ

That's all we need.. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#42727033)

Give it a decade and the internals of every new electronic consumer device will magically dissolve when it gets to two years old.

Planned obsolescence, indeed.

Re:That's all we need.. (1)

andrewbaldwin (442273) | about a year ago | (#42727469)

Reminds me of a comment I heard a few years back to the effect that the "millennium bug" [remember that?] would make things MORE reliable as the calculation to find the end of warranty period would roll over and thus the device/package/unit wouldn't know when to start failing.

Back to the original topic, remote destruction isn't new - dissolving may be a new twist though.

Hardly new (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year ago | (#42727035)

From the things I've heard from friends and acquaintances, mobile phone manufacturers already employ this technology.

That's fairly easy. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about a year ago | (#42727137)

Remember how electronics used to be embedded in epoxy?

Do the same but replace epoxy with C4. Drive one GPIO pin to a blasting cap. The electronics will be "dissolved" completely.

Surprised the DOD hasn't heard of thermite (1)

alispguru (72689) | about a year ago | (#42727159)

Just put a bag of iron oxide and aluminum powder next to the hard disk and stick a piece of magnesium ribbon into it.

One match, and I guarantee no readable data will be found in the resulting puddle of slag.

Flashy (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42727377)

One match, and I guarantee no readable data will be found in the resulting puddle of slag.

Perhaps they are looking for a slightly less ostentatious display of destruction in order to attract less attention.

Re:Flashy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727801)

Silent destruction is also easy. Have all the sensitive stuff on a single chip, which should be easy enough with an embedded device.

All you need then, is a slightly unusual chip casing, that contains an ampulle with concentrated hydrochloric acid. Give it a whack, and the glass breaks. Acid eats away silicone and the interesting pattern of transistors/wires on top of it. This happens fast, and the electric power to the chip will just make it worse. Unlike a chip zapped with overvoltage, there will be nothing interesting left to see with electron microscopes or similiar fancy equipment.

Hit the thing (or push the self-destruct button that merely is a nail aligned with the ampulle) and the chip is dead.

For a temperature trigger, glue a metal bar to the ampulle. The metal should have a different thermal expansion from the glass. Too hot or too cold, and the glass gets broken.

The acid could still be contained inside the chip casing, so they won't immediately know that you used the self-destruct.

To really stump attempts at disassembly, consider adding hydrofluoric acid too.
 

Patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727213)

SONY is using something similar since decades, don't they have a patent on the SONY Switch(tm)(r)?

Mobile Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727245)

Mobile phones have been doing this for years! All you need is C4 add-on pack.

FPGAs would make this trivial (2)

kjc197 (235890) | about a year ago | (#42727255)

Easy - Make the heart of the system an FPGA, and in the scenario of the device being lost / obtained / dropped either:

(a) Erase the FPGA prom and reset - this would cause the FPGA to lose its configuration data, and no longer function without a rebuild
or
(b) Assuming that they are using bitstream encryption, delete or burn out the key - again, the device would no longer program.

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727259)

a product that isn't complete until it is vaporware.

Everything old is new again (2)

VAXcat (674775) | about a year ago | (#42727277)

Back in the early 60s, there was still a vast amount of military electronics surplus available from WWI and the Korean wars. This cornucopia of gear was the delight of all of us young radio and electronics enthusiasts. The amateur radio press of the time warned that occasionally equipment would turn up that still had thermite scuttling charges in place - apparently some bits of gear were sensitive enough that they included thermite bombs built in that could be easily triggered when capture was imminent. I never personally saw any, but saw pictures in the journals of the time. So, anyway, this is hardly a new idea

certain conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727321)

All of my electronics already have this feature. Extreme heat will trigger a rapid destruction process.

Mentats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727323)

Solution: Mentats. Load them up on Spice and they are good to go. When the data needs to be quickly destroyed, shoot them in the face in a pinch.

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727345)

I'M MELTING! I'M MELTING!

Nothing new - it's like the self incinerating tape (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#42727351)

As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

*poof*

Mission Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727475)

your mission if you choose to accept it

All consumer electronics should be built like this (1)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about a year ago | (#42727495)

What a wonderful anti-theft strategy!!! Laptop or iPhone stolen? Just logon, click the button and let the satellite send the self-destruct signal...

Understand the problem space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727513)

This actually pretty simple to do. Just make sure all of the electronics are running some version of Windows.

co:3k (-1)

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certain conditions e.g. extreme heat... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#42727699)

I believe thermite has been around since about 1900.

This iPhone will selfdestruct in 10 seconds...

User Circumvention! (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#42727765)

Somehow I see this being circumvented by users. Just like other means of security such as annoying passwords can be defeated by users and a simple posted note, I am sure users afraid of continually loosing there data at any time will backup whatever they are doing to something that doesn't self destruct if you knock it the wrong way or whatever.

Still more concentration of power and control (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about a year ago | (#42727837)

If this technology is realized and becomes cheap, any bets on whether or not it becomes the standard for consumer electronics?

After all, it's the ultimate kill switch. Whether it's government agencies looking to disable citizens' tech devices for whatever spurious 'justification' they make up, or corporations arbitrarily and absolutely enforcing 'planned obsolescence', I predict that very bad things will be done with this if it ever becomes sufficiently cost-effective to be mass-produced.

Protocol? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42727851)

Mechanism is trivial. A small thermite charge encapsulated in the epoxy next to the die. Probably would not need enough to do anything more than bubble the epoxy. It would probably need to be vented so it didn't explode instead of melting the die.

Another option would be electrically ignitable magnesium heatsinks on key components.

I suspect they're really looking for a trigger protocol, not a mechanism. For example, if authorized user gets more than a certain distance from the unit, it self destructs unless it's been told "wait for me to return".

Battlefield Earth comes to mind... (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a year ago | (#42728015)

Aside from L. Ron Hubbard being cuckoo for Coca Puffs, he had a similar idea for dissolving circuits in his novel Battlefield Earth. He wrote some great Science Fiction, however I do not endorse Scientology, Dianetics or any of his other cult ideologies.

Sci-Fi Tech (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about a year ago | (#42728149)

I remember in the book Battlefield Earth, the invaders had protected their technology by making a dummy circuit with traditional methods, but etching the actual circuit at a molecular level to make it invisible. When the system detected that it was being tampered with or opened without the proper methods, it blew the dummy circuit to look like it was booby-trapped, and then wiped out the actual circuit to eliminate all the traces. Anyone who didn't know how to properly work around the tamper would end up with a dead board. I'm curious, but do things like that exist in modern hardware? I'd love to have the community chime in on how forensic analysis and/or reverse engineering of circuits is done these days, and methods of preventing it from occurring.

Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42728167)

...vaporware.

Self-destructive chips - already done (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about a year ago | (#42728195)

Heard a variation on this story more than 20 years ago...

The HCF [wikipedia.org] instruction was built into the motorola 6800.

CoA3k (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42728227)

though, I have to Rviolated. In the The Cathedral

Great: *real* VAPRware (1)

whitroth (9367) | about a year ago | (#42728401)

And for alla you Mission Impossible fans, that's *not* my reaction.

Chief: Max, when the password prompt comes up, you've got three chances to get it right, otherwise it will self destruct.
Max: Right, chief, here's a bad password (types) here's a second bad password (types) Now I'll type the correct one...
Cheif: Max, what's happened?
Max: I must have mistyped the good password....

And I can see the folks who use the coffee cup holder on their computer doing this....

                mark

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