Chip Company FTDI Silently Bricking Clone Chips

Chip manufacturer FTDI has admitted that a silent update they issued has been used to brick clones of their FGTI FT232 chips.

The FT232 is an extremely common chip found in various electronic devices, therefore some clones are most certainly present through different manufacturers. Unfortunately for us, the 99%, there’s no real way of telling if your device has a clone chip installed. That is unless you’ve recently had your device bricked.

Obviously there’s an outrage at the way this situation has been handled by FTDI, who’ve utilized a Windows Update to deliver a driver update that bricked all cloned FT232 chips. What this driver actually does is a simple reprogram of the USB PID to 0, rendering the chip dead instantly.

Still a bit confused about why you should care or where the chip comes in to daily life? FTDI’s chip is quite often seen on devices which contain USB-serial port hardware capabilities, used to add a USB serial port to a device or project. Popular hardware Hacker website, Hack A Day, added:

“The FTDI FT232 chip is found in thousands of electronic baubles, from Arduinos to test equipment, and more than a few bits of consumer electronics. It’s a simple chip, converting USB to a serial port.”

FTDI has since admitted to bricking these cloned microchips, claiming it is justified due to them being illegitimate clones of their original device. They went on to explain that they do not intend to target users, but the manufacturers using said chips. Unfortunately for FTDI, they aren’t aware that the end users actually have no idea if there is a cloned chip in their device or not.

Image courtesy of Arduino