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A Backdoor In AMD's Catalyst OpenCL Library?

AMD

Published on 13 January 2014 09:58 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
58 Comments

There's a chance there might be a concealed backdoor within AMD's Catalyst driver, in particular within their closed-source graphics driver's OpenCL library.

Developers behind oclHashcat, an open-source password recovery / cracking utility that uses OpenCL and CUDA for being "the world's fastest password cracker", pointed out in a tweet this morning that there's a rather stomach-turning symbol within the AMD Linux OpenCL library.

Spotted was a osTestBackdoorATI string within the libamdocl64.so AMD OpenCL 64-bit library on Linux. The "osTestBackdoorATI" can be easily revealed by running strings on the compiled library, but it's not yet known what exactly AMD is doing with this "test backdoor."

This was pointed out in our forums and as of publishing I have yet to hear back from AMD with any explanation over this "test backdoor" in their binary Linux driver.

UPDATE: According to AMD's Graham Sellers on Twitter, the hook is used for obtaining memory usage statistics during testing.

UPDATE 2: AMD's official statement on this symbol.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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