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They noted a class of active infiltration attacks that use "trapdoor" entry points into the system to bypass security facilities and permit direct access to data. A backdoor in a login system might take the form of a hard coded user and password combination which gives access to the system.The use of the word trapdoor here clearly coincides with more recent definitions of a backdoor. An example of this sort of backdoor was used as a plot device in the 1983 film War Games, in which the architect of the "WOPR" computer system had inserted a hardcoded password (his dead son's name) which gave the user access to the system, and to undocumented parts of the system (in particular, a video game-like simulation mode and direct interaction with the artificial intelligence).Alternatively, these other tools (length checks, diff, checksumming, disassemblers) can themselves be compromised to conceal the backdoor, for example detecting that the subverted binary is being checksummed and returning the expected value, not the actual value.To conceal these further subversions, the tools must also conceal the changes in themselves – for example, a subverted checksummer must also detect if it is checksumming itself (or other subverted tools) and return false values.However, since the advent of public key cryptography the term trapdoor has acquired a different meaning (see trapdoor function), and thus the term "backdoor" is now preferred. Although the number of backdoors in systems using proprietary software (software whose source code is not publicly available) is not widely credited, they are nevertheless frequently exposed.More generally, such security breaches were discussed at length in a RAND Corporation task force report published under ARPA sponsorship by J. Programmers have even succeeded in secretly installing large amounts of benign code as Easter eggs in programs, although such cases may involve official forbearance, if not actual permission.There are a number of cloak and dagger considerations that potentially come into play when apportioning responsibility.
The chip was unsuccessful internationally and in business.
As this requires subverting the compiler, this in turn can be fixed by recompiling the compiler, removing the backdoor insertion code.
This defense can in turn be subverted by putting a source meta-backdoor in the compiler, so that when it detects that it is compiling itself it then inserts this meta-backdoor generator, together with the original backdoor generator for the original program under attack.
These backdoors can be inserted either directly in the on-disk object code, or inserted at some point during compilation, assembly linking, or loading – in the latter case the backdoor never appears on disk, only in memory.
Object code backdoors are difficult to detect by inspection of the object code, but are easily detected by simply checking for changes (differences), notably in length or in checksum, and in some cases can be detected or analyzed by disassembling the object code.
For example, if a photomask obtained from a photomask supplier differs in a few gates from its photomask specification, a chip manufacturer would be hard-pressed to detect this if otherwise functionally silent; a covert rootkit running in the photomask etching equipment could enact this discrepancy unbeknown to the photomask manufacturer, either, and by such means, one backdoor potentially leads to another.