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Two stories before the question.

  1. My friend's oven has a setting where it goes into warm mode (200 F) after baking something. He looked on the internet and found that he can increase this warm time to 45 minutes by pushing the 'Bake' button 9 times while holding the 'Cancel' button and then quickly pushing the 'Broil' button 4 times.

  2. I saw a video where I can reset the paper count on my printer by pushing a certain button 6 times and opening and closing the ink door quickly and then hitting cancel 4 times.

In both cases, how did the 'hacker-dudes' who put this info out on the internet figure this backdoor method of hacking the hardware?

Do you think they found out a schematic of the IC of the oven/printer and sat around and figured out how to reset the hardware? Even if they have a schematic, coming up with the combinations of inputs to make a certain piece of hardware do something doesn't seem like an easy task.

Please let me know how you think people can just 'figure out' these backdoor methods.

In both cases I am assuming that the 'hacker-dudes' didn't get their hands on some sort of troubleshooting technical manual that the manufacturers of the oven and printer might have made available for their repair team.

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Those seem to be software implementations, which would mean reverese engineering the code. Nobody has time for that.

So sorry to disappoint, but the "hacker dudes" had inside information.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Correction: most people don't have time for that. But some consider it a hobby. And, thanks to our, ahem, friends at NSA, we have open-source tools that do a good job at helping out with software reverse-engineering. But you're right in that most of such "revelations" are leaks. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 21:15
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A schematic would be useless.

The only way would be to extract the code from the processor (typically they are locked to slow that down, though the protection can almost always be broken, with varying degrees of difficulty and required knowledge and equipment), disassemble the code and figure out if there are any back doors (there may not be).

Very time consuming for something that might well yield nothing.

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