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Anelok: revisiting tamper protection

Werner Almesberger werner at almesberger.net
Mon Mar 13 16:11:49 UTC 2017


A looong time ago, I presented an idea of making it relatively
straightforward to detect when the electronics of an Anelok device
have been tampered with.

http://lists.en.qi-hardware.com/pipermail/discussion/2014-May/010600.html

Back then, I thought of some resin or silicone, into which strings
of paint are mixed. That ought to work but would require the
development of a new production process.

Today, I found this:

https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/88947/prevention-measures-against-laptop-seizure-at-us-borders#comment148715_88960

and then this

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/itll-take-more-than-glitter-nail-polish-to-stop-snooping

Glitter nail polish is readily available, not too expensive, and
ought to do the trick just as well. It may be less friendly for
(legitimate) rework/repair than, say, silicone, but that could
probably be fixed by using a suitable substrate (polyurethane or
such). Also simply not caring too much about the repairability of
"sealed" boards (and making the sealing optional) may be an option.

I found these pictures of such polish with good contrast and high
variability:
http://followtheyellowpolishroad.blogspot.com.ar/2012/07/kleancolor-shooting-star.html?spref=pi

Quick research on the local eBay equivalent showed that also just
the ingredients of glitter nail polish are available, so one could
fine-tune colors and particle density.

The particles probably contain metals, so they're probably
conductive. Thus, a first protective coating would be needed.

- Werner



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