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Invasion of the Hardware Snatchers: Cloned Electronics Pollute the Market

Fake hardware could open the door to malicious malware and critical failures

12 min read
Image of chips marching
Photo: The Voorhes; Boards from Hondata

image of chips marching Photo: The Voorhes; Boards from Hondata

In February 2014, the FBI charged a Florida man, Marc Heera, with selling a cloned version of the Hondata s300, a plug-in module for the engine computer that reads data from sensors in Honda cars and automatically adjusts the air-fuel mixture, idle speed, and other factors to improve performance. The plug-in also allows users to monitor the engine via Bluetooth and make their own adjustments. The clones certainly looked like the genuine product, but in fact they contained circuit boards that had likely been built in China, according to designs Heera had obtained through reverse engineering. Honda warned that cars using the counterfeits exhibited a number of problems, including random limits on engine rpm and, occasionally, failure to start. Devices that connect to an engine control unit (ECU) present particular safety concerns; researchers have demonstrated that, through ECU access, they could hijack a car’s brakes and steering.

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New Filter Doubles Nuclear Fuel Extractable from Seawater

It pulls uranium out at record rates—but real-world tests are still to come

3 min read
illustration of a blue stream of water traveling diagonally to the lower left, intersecting with a white filter membrane substance with yellow and red atomic stick models floating around in the upper half of the image
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Nature Sustainability

The International Atomic Energy Agency expects nuclear power to grow significantly in the coming decades, by up to 82 percent by the year 2050. That would create an increase in demand for uranium that reserves on land may not be able to meet.

But the world’s oceans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, contain at least 500 times more uranium than in all known terrestrial reserves. That equates to more than 4.5 billion metric tons of the element in seawater, albeit present at an extremely dilute concentration of 3.3 parts per billion, and scientists have been trying to find efficient ways to extract it.

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Video Friday: Guitar Bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Closeup of a robotic arm strumming an acoustic guitar

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Learn How to Use a High-Performance Digitizer

Join Teledyne for a three-part webinar series on high-performance data acquisition basics

1 min read

Webinar: High-Performance Digitizer Basics

Part 3: How to Use a High-Performance Digitizer

Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Time: 10 AM PST | 1 PM EST

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