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PICList Thread
'[PIC]: whining about the 16F877 code protection'
2001\07\26@120757 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
> Look guys, bottom line, I'm having a real hard time understanding why
> everyone is defending a multi-billion dollar behemoth, who not only was
> aware that their chip architecture was fundamentally flawed more than 24
> months ago, but made a business deicision to delay the fix solely for
> dollars sake,

Um, that's what they're supposed to do.  They're running a business, not a
charity.

> paying no heed whatsoever to the fact that their very
> customers are put a severe risk of code copying.  Quite frankly, they did
> not give a sh*!*t.

Companies make decisions all the time not to address particular markets.  No
one product is going to satisfy all customers.  OK, so Microchip produced a
part that doesn't fit your needs.  The F877 does fit a lot of other people's
needs, so it looks like they got it right.  It's not their fault that you
screwed up and are trying to use it in a way it was not designed to support.
To follow this logic, you should be just as irate at all the other companies
that make all the other products that also don't fit your needs.

By the way, I thought your subject implying that only you should get the
last word was rather pretentious and arrogant.  I've taken the liberty of
changing it to more accurately reflect the content.


********************************************************************
Olin Lathrop, embedded systems consultant in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, spam_OUTolinTakeThisOuTspamembedinc.com, http://www.embedinc.com

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2001\07\26@123829 by Ron Anthony

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face
look, i lose.  i mentioned it to the list to see if there was something i
missed.  any glimmer of hope died yesterday with the 18F more than 6 months
out, and the 77A even beyond that.  Past that, it was about letting others
know where the weakness was, for their own benefit.  I already knew how
screwed I was.  And I'm pissed because during this rant I'm ass deep in the
most insane code that's ever been written for the sole purpose of working
around a known defect in the chip.  The design philosophy of the flash
memory was "let's prevent a code writer from destroying his own boot loader"
and not "let secure the chip so only the author can update it".

If the 77A came out on time more than half a year ago, I've got no problem.
When it finally comes out, it will have been more then 1 year late.  So I
say again, thanks for nothing.  Those guys ain't starving over there.  Their
job is to separate you from as much money as they can, I know this.  But
here I'm forced to deal with a totally unessary chicken and egg beast.  I
just didn't need this right now.

From a fellow coder who's in the crunch--- royally screwed.



{Original Message removed}

2001\07\26@191906 by Mike Mansheim

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2001\07\26@192950 by Mike Mansheim

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face
sorry about the blank message - spastically hit send instead of something
nearby.
Also sorry to add a post to this topic, but I've gotten confused.

If I am NOT using a bootloader, but do have a board set up for ICSP, do
I still have a protectable, flashable setup as I think I do?  In all of
the discussion, the distinction between bootloaders and ICSP has gotten
blurred in my mind.
Programming environment is a promate attached via cable to target board;
target board is complete, including F87x; has been designed to accomodate
ICSP.  The first time I program, if I set code protect, as far as I know,
the chip cannot be read, but can be programmed again.  The programming
sequence for a code protected chip requires that the entire chip be
erased first, thus protecting the contents.
Is this all still true?
Thanks.

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2001\07\26@232144 by Bob Ammerman

picon face
Mike,

Relax, all your assumptions are correct.

You are completely protected in these circumstances.

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems
(contract development of high performance, high function, low-level
software)

{Original Message removed}

2001\07\27@090609 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
> If I am NOT using a bootloader, but do have a board set up for ICSP, do
> I still have a protectable, flashable setup as I think I do?  In all of
> the discussion, the distinction between bootloaders and ICSP has gotten
> blurred in my mind.
> Programming environment is a promate attached via cable to target board;
> target board is complete, including F87x; has been designed to accomodate
> ICSP.  The first time I program, if I set code protect, as far as I know,
> the chip cannot be read, but can be programmed again.  The programming
> sequence for a code protected chip requires that the entire chip be
> erased first, thus protecting the contents.
> Is this all still true?

Yes.


********************************************************************
Olin Lathrop, embedded systems consultant in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, .....olinKILLspamspam@spam@embedinc.com, http://www.embedinc.com

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2001\07\27@111138 by Mike Mansheim

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face
>> Is this all still true?

> You are completely protected in these circumstances.

> Yes.

Thanks!

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2001\07\27@120412 by Jeff DeMaagd

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----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Mansheim <Michael_J_MansheimspamKILLspamGRACO.COM>


> >> Is this all still true?
>
> > You are completely protected in these circumstances.
>
> > Yes.

So, how hard is it to have a field reprogrammable unit that uses ICSP?
Would it take a small pic external to the '77 to re-code RS232 to the ICSP
signal?  Unfortunately it would appear that that link would still be weak as
it wouldn't be encrypted.

I stayed out of the thread as I wasn't sure what the issues were.

I can definitely see where Ron was troubled as his requirements seem to have
him in a bind.  To have a secure remotely programmable device is a tricky
proposition, where Ron has what I would guess a decrypter in the bootloader
to write the data, so the chip and data file you send to customers isn't
readily crackable.

I am curious if any other major uC lines have this sort of problem?

I am not really familiar with much other than the PIC, but I've made a few
programs for the 505x & 68HC11, neither seem to have anything that's all
that conducive to such security measures, but there are plenty of clones
that might.

Jeff

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