Breaking all the things: a systematic survey of firmware extraction and modification techniques for IoT devices

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Colleges, School and Institutes


In this paper, we systematically review and categorize different hardware-based firmware extraction techniques, using 24 examples of real, wide-spread products, e.g. smart voice assistants (in particular Amazon Echo devices), alarm and access control systems, as well as home automation devices. We show that in over 45% of the cases, an exposed UART interface is sufficient to obtain a firmware dump, while in othercases, more complicated, yet still low-cost methods (e.g. JTAG or eMMC readout) are needed. In this regard, we perform an in-depth investigation of the security concept of the Amazon Echo Plus, which contains significant protection methods against hardware-level attacks. Based on the results of our study, we give recommendations for countermeasures to mitigate the respective methods.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCARDIS 2018: Smart Card Research and Advanced Applications
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2019
Event17th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference - Montpellier, France
Duration: 12 Nov 201814 Nov 2018

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference17th Smart Card Research and Advanced Application Conference