Cybersecurity: Introduction to Embedded System Exploitation     


I.D.# C1524Printable Description
Duration: 2 Days
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Embedded hardware is everywhere you look today from your vehicle’s infotainment system to refrigerator to medical devices and everything else in-between. With so much exposure one would think that such devices are secure against attack; however, sadly for a large number of devices this is not the case. For proof, just look no further than your local news reports. They are full of reports on devices being hacked into.

So, as engineers, how do we go about first identifying and mitigating (or capitalizing) the potential security vulnerabilities within these devices? The answer to this question, and the subject of this seminar, is through the reverse engineering of the hardware itself. This seminar is a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises which will conclude with the students attempting to attack and defeat a custom embedded device.

While the idea of taking apart a complicated piece of hardware may seem overwhelming, with both the technical background and reverse engineering techniques presented in this seminar you will soon find that you are not only up to the task but more comfortable doing so in the future. To expedite the learning process and remove some of the potential over complexities of embedded systems, the material presented in this seminar will focus on a custom made embedded device which has been designed with simplicity of understanding in mind. At the end of the seminar, students are free to take home with them the embedded device, a starter kit of physical exploitation tools, and the pre-built work environment that was used in the seminar.

Learning Objectives
By attending this seminar, you will be able to:

  • Identify key hardware components of embedded systems
  • Research and use datasheets
  • Interpret basic schematics
  • Locate and utilize hidden communication paths (i.e. debug ports)
  • Interface target hardware with a PC
  • Use a logic analyzer to capture communications between an Micro Controller Unit (MCU) and external memory
  • Extract firmware from an embedded system

Who Should Attend
This seminar is intended for engineers who want to develop a basic understanding and the corresponding skill set needed for the hardware reverse engineering of embedded systems. The seminar assumes students have at least a basic understanding of both electronics and programming. Other prospective students who will benefit from this course include computer security researchers, digital forensic investigators, software engineers, and senior management.

Topical Outline
Day One

  • Overview of Hardware Reverse Engineering
    • Accepted definitions
    • Why would we hack hardware
    • Limitations
    • Adopting a hacker mindset
  • Engineer Bling – Gather Your Tools
    • Soldering / desoldering
    • Multimeters, logic analyzers, and oscilloscopes
    • MCU reader / writers (programmers)
    • Prototyping MCU
    • Miscellaneous items
  • Basic Electronic Concepts for the Budding Hardware Engineer
    • Voltage
    • Resistance
    • Component identification
    • Data sheets
  • Key Components in Embedded Systems
    • MCU
    • Memory
    • Storage
  • Embedded Systems Communication Protocols of Interest
    • Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter (UART)
    • Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)
    • Joint Test Action Group (JTAG)
    • Inter-integrated Circuit (I2C)
Day Two
  • Perimeter Reconnaissance
    • Identifying information
    • Exposed entry points
    • Exterior anti-tamper
  • Cracking Open the Box
    • Recording the way things were
    • Tracking the order of things
  • Identification of Pins and Components
    • Company logos
    • Part numbers
    • Pin counts, organization, and layout
  • Datasheet Reconnoitering
    • Google
    • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    • Company websites
  • Building a Pre-Attack Plan
    • Locating ports
    • Finding ground and voltage pins
    • Isolating the transmit pin
    • Interfacing to the PC
    • Finding the receive pin
  • Covert Operations
    • Gathering data from off-the-wire
    • Disinformation in communications
    • Firmware acquisition
  • End Game
    • Using your supporting tools and software
    • Hacking and slashing your way through the firmware
    • Looking for missed opportunities
  • Wrapping Up
    • Cleaning up the battle field
    • After action report

Instructor(s): Samuel Mantravadi
Dr. Samuel Mantravadi is a Research Engineer at the Embedded, Commercial and Sensors Office of Assured Information Security, Inc. Since joining AIS, Dr. Mantravadi has been applying his knowledge of sensor systems and embedded development to address cybersecurity challenges when connecting processors and networking directly to sensors including medical devices, automobiles, aircraft systems, and other sensor systems. He has a unique combination of experience in embedded software development, testing, reverse engineering and sensor systems along with a strong background in research for the United States Air Force. During his Air Force career, he served in three different directorates of the Air Force Research Laboratory, working on sensor technology development programs for Directed Energy, Basic Research (AFOSR) and the Center for Rapid Innovation. Dr. Mantravadi has published four referred journal and conference papers. He holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Wright State University and a PhD from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Fees: $1530.00 ; SAE Members: $1224.00 - $1377.00

1.3 CEUs
You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

For additional information, contact SAE Customer Service at 1-877-606-7323 (724/776-4970 outside the U.S. and Canada) or at

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