Reading protected Microcontrollers (MCU) - RussianSemiResearch

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FAQ:

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  • 1. For whom this FAQ is intended?

    Most experts are developing devices for microcontrollers are already familiar with the topic of protection programs of microcontrollers, so we can assume that this section them nothing new will not tell. However, there is a huge army of engineers and consumers of electronic devices are not familiar with the detailed organization of such protection, but want or understand the details of the available device, or create a similar device, for them is this collection of answers to questions.

  • 2. For what and from whom is the protection of microcontrollers?

    Many manufacturers of electronic devices are trying to protect their device from the ability to easily copy it by other manufacturer. Them went to meet manufacturers of microcontrollers, entering to their products the functional copy protection software (firmware) is contained in the memory of the microcontroller. Using this protection of reading the firmware (firmware) manufacturers of electronic devices can protect their product from simply copying by another manufacturer.

  • 3. What is the copy protection in the microcontroller, and why I myself can not be read secure firmware?

    Typically, the copy protection is established during the programming of the microcontroller by setting a special bit of protection or more bits in configuration word of the microcontroller. Physically, these bits are placed in special memory locations on chip microcontroller. Sometimes used other methods of protection, such as password protection, but the principle remains. To remove the protection is usually necessary to change the value of this bit or multiple bits, but often can be used and other methods of reading the contents of program memory of the microcontroller. Conventional methods, such as programmer, do not succeed, you need a complicated expensive equipment, which is usually a developer of electronic devices has not. Therefore, we, having the necessary equipment, knowledge and experience, specialize in providing such services.

  • 4. What gives me the removal the protection reading the firmware?

    Suppose you have a device that you purchased from one of the manufacturers of electronic devices and you want to produce the same, but the modified device. But the source of firmware or the binary firmware you have not, and you will be completely from scratch to develop and debug firmware. This, compared to copying the electronic component device (circuit), will have to spend a lot of money and time. Use our professional services, you will save time and money to develop the device. In the presence of the device or the electrical circuit, we can restore the full algorithm of its work and the text of the firmware programming language C or Assembler.

  • 5. What is the legality of such actions in terms of legislation?

    All firmware, that we read by the customer request, in order to repair his devices, or to study the algorithm of firmware. All further responsibility for the illegal distribution of firmware or other actions with it or with its help falls entirely on the customer.

    Our company operates in Russia, so below is a quote from the law. Laws of other country declare a similar position.

    Article 1280 Civil Code. "The free play of computer programs and databases. Decompilation of computer programs.

    ...

    2. Person lawfully in possession of a copy of a computer program may, without the consent of the owner and without payment of additional remuneration, to explore, examine or test the functioning of such a program in order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, through the implementation of actions under subparagraph 1 of paragraph 1 of this article.

    3. Person lawfully in possession of a copy of a computer program may, without the consent of the rightholder and without payment of additional remuneration, reproduce or convert the object code into source code (decompile the computer program) or by third parties to carry out these actions, if they are necessary to achieve interoperability regardless developed that person's computer program with other programs that can interact with the decompiled program ...

  • 6. What is the additional protection of reading and why it is better than usual?

    Additional three-level protection is designed to create the conditions can not read the firmware by known methods. It can include from one to three layers of protection: protection from opening the case, the hidden inside case cut pin used by the programmer to read, hidden inside chip removal the control logic used to read.

    The first level is resistant to acids and solvents refractory polymer that does not allow access to the crystal.

    The second level makes it impossible to read the procedure for the programmer without any special expensive tools.

    The third level performs similarly to the second function, but the chip recovery the control logic on the inner layers is almost impossible or requires very expensive equipment.

    Given that the vast majority of ordinary factory protection is easily bypassed, additional protection for many expensive and complex devices is a critical step to prevent material losses related to exposure to the fruit of intellectual activity in the hands of third parties.

  • 7. I want to install additional protection, but I am afraid that you can read my super-secret program before installing your protection. Is there any way to add an extra protection on the chip, before I finally programmed it?

    In this case, before installing our additional protection you can only flash bootloader without the main program. After we will set additional protection, you'll be able to program the main memory. And the bootloader to download the main program must use any other interface other than mostly used for standard programming, because the main interface will be disabled after the installation of our additional protection. Usually bootloader no interest to copy. You can use your bootloader, or a modified example of the manufacturer of the microcontroller.

  • 8. I am afraid that after reading my program can be transferred or used by third parties.

    It excluded, we never did transmit readed  firmware and restored the source, do not store or use them ourselves for our purposes.