Joe Grand


15-16 June 2016


24 Seats


2100$ CAD before May 1,
2500$ CAD after.

This course teaches hardware hacking and reverse engineering techniques commonly used against electronic products and embedded systems. It is a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises covering the hardware hacking process, proper use of tools and test measurement equipment, circuit board analysis and modification, embedded security, and common hardware attack vectors. The course concludes with a final hardware hacking challenge in which students must apply what they’ve learned in the course to defeat the security mechanism of a custom circuit board.

The main goal of this course is to give students the resources and skills they need to confidently approach hardware exploitation and to come up with creative solutions for their own particular engagements.


During the course, the student will:

  • Understand the hardware hacking process and mindset
  • Learn the skills needed to successfully reverse engineer, modify, and/or attack electronic products
  • Apply real world techniques to defeat the security of a custom circuit board

Course Materials

Students will be provided with the following materials and equipment:

  • Electronics and hardware hacking tools, including a soldering iron, multimeter, logic analyzer, and device programmer
  • Grand Idea Studio’s custom training circuit board (one for each student to keep)
  • Course lecture slides and hardware hacking/embedded security reference material


A. Hardware Hacking Overview    
  1. Methodology
  2. Key goals
  3. Common themes

B. Information Gathering

C. Product Teardown
  1. Opening housings
  2. Anti-tamper mechanisms
    2.1 Defeating encapsulation
    2.2 Hands-on exercise: Epoxy removal
  3. Component identification
    3.1 Basic components
    3.2 Microcontrollers
    3.3 Identifying ICs (Integrated Circuits)
    3.4 Data sheets
  4. Schematics
  5. PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards)
    5.1 Fabrication/features
    5.2 Deconstruction techniques
    5.3 Hands-on exercise: PCB modifications
D. Soldering and Desoldering
  1. Techniques/tips
  2. Hands-on exercise: Soldering
  3. Hands-on exercise: Desoldering
  4. Difficult package types

E. Buses and Interfaces
  1. Identifying interfaces
  2. Determining pin function
    2.1 Hands-on exercise: Initial probing w/ multimeter
  3. Signal monitoring/analysis
    3.1 Hands-on exercise: Signal monitoring w/ logic analyzer
    3.2 Serial/UART
    3.3 Hands-on exercise: Digital signal decoding w/ logic analyzer
    3.4 Wireless/RF
  4. Debug interfaces
    4.1 JTAG (IEEE 1149.1)
  5. Hands-on exercise: Create a block diagram/schematic

F. Memory and Firmware
  1. Memory types/technologies
  2. Security considerations
  3. Extracting firmware
  4. Firmware analysis/disassembly
  5. Hands-on exercise: Data extraction/modification
G. Signal Manipulation
  1. Tools/techniques
  2. Glitching
H. Side Channel Attacks
  1. Electromagnetic/RF
  2. Power
  3. Light/Sound
  4. Timing
I. Hardware Hacking Challenge
  * Apply the knowledge and skills learned in the course to reverse
  engineer and defeat the security mechanism of a custom electronic


The course aims to educate everyone, including computer security researchers, digital forensic investigators, design engineers, and senior management. Whether you already have some experience with hacking hardware, are looking to expand the capabilities of your organization, or would like to learn how hackers may be reverse engineering your products, this course will be of benefit. No prior electronics experience is required.


Students should bring their own laptop running Windows (or equivalent virtual machine) and containing a functional USB interface. The laptop will be used for online research and to control test equipment. Software and drivers will need to be installed.


Joe Grand (@joegrand) is a computer engineer, hardware hacker, product designer, teacher, advisor, runner, daddy, honorary doctor, TV host, member of L0pht Heavy Industries, and the proprietor of Grand Idea Studio.


Click here to register.