Cipher Book Review, Issue E138

The Hardware Hacker - Adventures in making & breaking hardware
by Andrew "bunnie" Huang

No Starch Press 2017.
ISBN 978-1-59327-758-1

Reviewed by  Sven Dietrich   6/2/2017 

While we play with computer hardware, whether we be Luddites, creative technologists, security researchers, or otherwise, we often appreciate the fine piece of technology in our hands. Andrew "bunnie" Huang takes us on a journey through the manufacturing sites of hardware, technology flea markets, and the soul of intellectual property of Southeast Asia.

Written as a collection of essays, this book brings you to the world of hardware via an exploration of Huang's own hardware projects, critical thinking about fake hardware in production environments, and the realism of forensics on allegedly new hardware. This book is fun to read. It mixes highly technical references, expands on the shopping list for hardware projects, and walks you through the factory floors of Shenzhen.

There are fascinating examples of actual creation and hacking of hardware. He describes building your own laptop, taking apart a cheap ($12) mobile phone, and dissecting a simple SD card while determining its microcontroller. The book is illustrated with many images of his creations and hacker analyses, showing the innards of technology. Huang also describes his explorations of the factories in China, with its stacks of logic boards, assembly lines, and machine tools.

The book covers these topics in four parts, each subdivided into its own chapters: part 1 - adventures in manufacturing, part 2 - thinking differently, intellectual property in China, part 3 - what open hardware means to me, part 4 - a hacker's perspective.

I hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I did. Andrew "bunnie" Huang is a master in his field and is not shy to share a view of his world.

Sven Dietrich reviews technology and security books for IEEE Cipher. He welcomes your thoughts at spock at ieee dot .org