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There is a vocabulary for code used for malicious or clandestine purposes. Terms include malware, virus, trojan-horse...

In a large IC with millions of transistors, it is feasible to produce a version with an additional small drop-in that can be exploited without any special software included in the host machine. These tiny additions are particularly difficult to detect without destructive deconstruction and mapping via electron or X-ray microscopy.

Is there are term for this class of hardware exploit?

I'm looking for something beyond "Fake IC" or "counterfeit IC", those presumably deceive the customer for reasons of profit, but wouldn't necessarily contain extra circuit layout for malicious or clandestine purposes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the video game community, something similar to this is called a modchip, though it's not usually a modified version of an existing chip. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Feb 3 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hearth Thanks!! if there's a supporting link, that might be a reasonable answer to post. \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Feb 3 at 0:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ElliotAlderson you don't need to make something in order to refer to it with a term. The software industry doesn't make malware, but it does refer to it quite a bit! \$\endgroup\$ – uhoh Feb 3 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby It hasn't been definitively shown to be a hoax, but every single company implicated -- as well as the DHS -- has categorically denied it, and one of Bloomberg's key sources has stated that he suggested that exact mechanism as an example of how an implant could theoretically be hidden. So it all looks really fishy. \$\endgroup\$ – duskwuff Feb 3 at 1:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @uhoh The reason I didn't put this as an answer is that modchips are not actually what you're referring to, but a somewhat similar thing. Specifically, modchips are ICs added to an existing circuit board in order to bypass some form of protection on the board, for example to make the system accept copied game discs. They are not sold as something other than what they are. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Feb 3 at 1:23
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Trojan is the term. Specifically Hardware Trojan. This term is generic as it applies to any hardware that produces this unwanted security hole, including MITM hardware, equipment with circuit boards replaced, firmware replacement, add on hardware like mod-chips not disclosed to the end user etc. Not specifically just wafer level changes to an IC, but that's included.

See https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/1319177 for the Design Tools for Hardware Trojan Detection and Mitigation article provided to the Department of Defense.

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