% fortune -ae paul murphy

Asking a paranoid question

I've been looking at the role recent developments in nano scale current measurement and induction have in defense remote sensing - for building things like hand held explosives detectors, full body scanners, and remote material classifiers.

One of the established technologies for detector detectors involves recognizing that the other guy's sensor detector has to pick up whatever wave lengths you're using, and then using remotely induced currents to set up detectable resonance effects in that device - this is how police, for example, can remotely determine that you're using a locally illegal radar detector.

In thinking about this stuff I ran into a question about whose answer I have no clues - and I'm hoping someone here does.

Given that off die main memory has to be connected, today, to the CPU by conductors, how hard is to remotely induce currents there that either shut down the machine or provide an entry point for transmitted instructions?

The new Intel DX58SO Socket LGA1366 Motherboard, for example, clearly has the usual RF protection for key components, but also appears to feature connections to memory that run parallel, have the same length, are radio accessible, and are different in length from nearby RF accessible traces - lines, in other words on which unique current flows could be remotely induced - especially if the metal exterior case has a precisely cut embedded strip with better conductive properties than the rest of the thing.

I've asked a couple of people who should know if this is a real threat - if, in other words, the term "drive by hacking" could soon acquire a whole new, and vastly nastier, meaning.

So far, I've received no answers beyond "don't know" and "stupid question" - so while I certainly don't know what it will take to do this kind of thing, I don't see a technical show stopper here and because what can be done will be done, guess that induction based denial of service attacks are possible now and that induction based hacking is therefore just a matter of time.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.