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Reverse Engineering Techniques

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Jon Slaughter, Nov 25, 2009.

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  1. Is there any anti-reverse engineering techniques out there? I was thinking
    of making some not-so-obvious shorts between tracks though would easily be
    fixable if you knew they weren't suppose to be there. Other ideas would be
    to split the board up and have them fab'ed by different places but easily
    hooked back up. These don't work too well for boards that are obvious and
    simple. While impossible to completely prevent reverse engineering it would
    be nice to be able to prevent the chinese farmers from making a profit off
    of someone elses hard work.
  2. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    That's almost the only method. If large qties then have the uC
    programmed at whoever pruduces it, and locked. Then you know exactly how
    many were shipped to your assembler and how much attrition there is.

    Xray will unearth all that in a jiffy.
  3. Is that a deliberate strategy or just a result of splitting work
    between congressional districts or some such thing?

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  4. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

  5. This is a simple board and because of mechanical reasons is obvious what it
    does and potting is impossible. My main thing is not so much the finished
    product but the fab. The idea is "What keeps a pcb fab company from stealing
    the gerbers"? Chinese farmers can easily take the gerbers and send them to
    their friends and not even RE the stuff(since there is no real method to
    prosecute them in china?). Or the can simply RE the stuff and mod the layout
    to make it look more original.
  6. This is a very simple design. I thought about trying to break the board in
    half which would definitely obscure it's application but makes it very
    difficult to put back together again... mainly because of mechanical
    reasons(cannot have connectors on the board) with quite a few traces that
    would be broken and need to be connected.
  7. That's why you put stuff in firmware and you supply the chips
    Gerbers won't do you any good unless you have the schematic and firmware.
    Some people go to the trouble of adding various superfluous micros who's
    sole purpose is to confuse the reverse engineerers and make it difficult for
    Functions that don't really need a micro get one anyway :)

  8. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Jon Laughter"

    ** Wot a bullshitting narcissist.

    ...... Phil
  9. Rigol tried it on their oscilloscopes, and well, didn't put enough effort
    into it:

  10. Fred Bartoli

    Fred Bartoli Guest

    Jon Slaughter a écrit :
    Yeah, break you design in tiny boards and connect them together.
    Say, one resistor per board, one capacitor per board, one transistor per
    board, one diode per board,...
    The nice thing is that this also allow to highly standardize your PCBs,
    hence reduce your costs...
  11. Think there's some difference between reverse engineering and stealing
    design documents. If a design is really simple, one can build another from
    scratch more easily then reverse engineering it. Fiddling with a simple
    designs PCB will do more harm then good. The only way to hide something is
    using a programmable device like a micro or a PLD that can be read protected
    after programming. If you program that devices yourself you will have no
    code files or master devices laying around. Think you cannot do better
    unless you want to do all the assembling yourself.

    petrus bitbyter
  12. krw

    krw Guest

    I worked on the equivalent in the early '90s for the 3090 and ES9000
    series processors. It was a bit more cluncky though and there was no
    pretense of protecting code (I'm sure there isn't here either), only
    the cryptographic keys and other "secret" information.
  13. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    It can't be done; the best you can do is slow them down a bit. The way to
    do it is to have millions of your device built quickly, and sell them
    fast, before the copyists get into the act.

    Good Luck!
  14. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Probably some of that, plus for military stuff there's the threat of
    imprisonment or execution for revealing classified information to "the

  15. krw

    krw Guest

    ....unless you're the NYT.
  16. Bring out the new improved model with another valuable feature just
    after the copyist has succeeded in flooding the market with your last
    version. Stay ahead.
  17. So far they have nothing... I can't stop someone from looking at the final
    product but I can stop them from blatently ripping off the idea such as the
    fab company taking the gerbers(even if it's just one of the engineers giving
    them to his buddy). Ok, I can't stop them but I can surely give them

    Of course this is not so much about my specific product as I doubt they
    would be interested in wasting their time on it... but it is a general
    question about protecting ones work.
  18. krw

    krw Guest

    I guess my point was that even taken to these extremes, there is no
    pretense of protecting the circuit or the code inside (i.e. being
    replicated). The protection is limited to a rather small dataset.

    IOW, in general, if they want to copy a widget they will. All you can
    do is make it marginally more expensive to do so. IOW, a better
    solution is to sell a service that happens to have hardware attached
    to it.
  19. krw

    krw Guest

    If you're worried about the Gerbers being ripped off then you can
    print your logo on the circuit. Another fab would likely refuse the
    work. If you're worried about your fab, get another.
    In general, you can't protect anything from a sufficiently motivated
    thief. It's all a matter of degree. Spy vs. spy, as it were.
  20. krw

    krw Guest

    You don't "copyright" anything. A work is copyrighted by its mere
    existence and yes that certainly includes board layouts. That hardly
    matters though. Laws don't stop thieves from stealing.
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