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Platform Security Assessment Framework
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chipsec-manual.pdf Version 1.1.7

Read WARNING.txt before using.

Questions? enter a new issue labeled as question, or e-mail

1. Description

CHIPSEC: Platform Security Assessment Framework

CHIPSEC is a framework for analyzing security of PC platforms including hardware, system firmware including BIOS/UEFI and the configuration of platform components. It allows creating security test suite, security assessment tools for various low level components and interfaces as well as forensic capabilities for firmware

CHIPSEC can run on any of these environments:

  1. Windows (client and server)
  2. Linux
  3. UEFI Shell

NOTE: This software is for security testing purposes. Use at your own risk.

2. Installation

CHIPSEC supports Windows, Linux, and UEFI shell. Circumstances surrounding the target platform may change which of these environments is most appropriate. When running CHIPSEC as part of a corporate IT management infrastructure, Windows may be preferred. However, sometimes it may be preferable to assess the platform security without interfering with the normal operating system. In these instances, CHIPSEC may be run from a bootable USB thumb drive - either a Live Linux image or a UEFI shell.


Supports the following client versions:

  • Windows 8 x86 and AMD64
  • Windows 7 x86 and AMD64
  • Windows XP (support discontinued)

Supports the following server versions:

  • Windows Server 2012 x86 and AMD64
  • Windows Server 2008 x86 and AMD64
  1. Install Python (

  2. Install additional packages for installed Python release (in any order)

  3. Build chipsec Windows driver (skip this step if you already have chipsec_hlpr.sys driver binary for your version of Windows) See instructions in \source\drivers\win7\readme

  4. Copy chipsec driver (chipsec_hlpr.sys) to proper path in CHIPSEC \source\tool\chipsec\helper\win\win7_ where is "x86" or "amd64" (Default path is \source\tool\chipsec\helper\win\win7_amd64)

  5. Turn off kernel driver signature checks

    Windows 8 64-bit (with Secure Boot enabled) / Windows Server 2012 64-bit (with Secure Boot enabled):

    • In CMD shell: shutdown /r /t 0 /o
    • Navigate: Troubleshooting > Advanced Settings > Startup Options > Reboot
    • After reset choose F7 "Disable driver signature checks" OR
    • Disable Secure Boot in the BIOS setup screen then disable driver signature checks as in Windows 8 with Secure Boot disabled

    Windows 7 64-bit (AMD64) / Windows Server 2008 64-bit (AMD64) / Windows 8 (with Secure Boot disabled) / Windows Server 2012 (with Secure Boot disabled)):

    • Boot in Test mode (allows self-signed certificates)
      • Start CMD.EXE as Adminstrator
      • BcdEdit /set TESTSIGNING ON
      • Reboot If doesn't work, run these additional commands:
      • BcdEdit /set noIntegrityChecks ON
      • BcdEdit /set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS OR
    • Press F8 when booting Windows and choose "No driver signatures enforcement" option to turn off driver signature checks at all
  6. Notes on loading chipsec kernel driver:

    • On Windows 7, launch CMD.EXE as Administrator
    • CHIPSEC will attempt to automatically register and start its service (load driver) or call existing if it's already started.
    • (OPTIONAL) You can manually register and start the service/driver. Follow below instructions before running CHIPSEC then run it with "--exists" command-line option. CHIPSEC will not attempt to start the driver but will call already running driver.

To start the service (in cmd.exe)

sc create chipsec binpath="<PATH_TO_CHIPSEC_DIR>\\chipsec\\win\\<YOUR_PLATFORM>\\chipsec_hlpr.sys" type= kernel DisplayName="Chipsec driver"
sc start chipsec

Then to stop/delete service:

sc stop chipsec
sc delete chipsec


  • Open Device Manager
  • Right click on computer name > "Add legacy hardware"
  • Next > "Install the hardware that I manually select from the list (Advanced)"
  • Next > Choose "System devices"
  • Next > "Have Disk"
  • Select chipsec.inf

UEFI shell

If you don't have bootable USB thumb drive with UEFI Shell yet, you need to build it:

  1. Download UDK from Tianocore (Tested with UDK2010.SR1)
  2. Follow instructions in DuetPkg/ReadMe.txt to create a bootable USB thumb drive with UEFI Shell (DUET)

Installing CHIPSEC on bootable thumb drive with UEFI shell:

  1. Extract contents of install/UEFI/chipsec_uefi.7z to the DUET USB drive
    • This will create /efi/Tools directory with Python.efi and /efi/StdLib with subdirectories
  2. Copy contents of CHIPSEC (source/tool) to the DUET USB drive
  3. Reboot to the USB drive (this will load UEFI shell)
  4. Run CHIPSEC in UEFI shell
   cd source/tool
   python (or python

Extending CHIPSEC functionality for UEFI

You don't need to read this section if you don't plan on extending native UEFI functionality for CHIPSEC.

Native functions accessing HW resources are built directly into Python UEFI port in built-in edk2 module. If you want to add more native functionality to Python UEFI port for chipsec, you'll need to re-build Python for UEFI:

  1. Check out AppPkg with Python 2.7.2 port for UEFI from SVN
    • You'll also need to check out StdLib and StdLibPrivateInternalFiles packages from SVN
    • Alternatively download latest EADK (EDK II Application Development Kit) from EADK includes AppPkg/StdLib/StdLibPrivateInternalFiles. Unfortunately, EADK Alpha 2 doesn't have Python 2.7.2 port so you'll need to check it out SVN
  2. Add functionality to Python port for UEFI
    • Python 2.7.2 port for UEFI is in \AppPkg\Applications\Python
    • All chipsec related functions are in \AppPkg\Applications\Python\Efi\edk2module.c "#ifdef CHIPSEC" Asm functions are in \AppPkg\Applications\Python\Efi\cpu.asm
    • e.g. is C:\UDK2010.SR1
  3. Build /AppPkg with Python
    • Read instructions in \AppPkg\ReadMe.txt and \AppPkg\Applications\Python\PythonReadMe.txt
    • Binaries of AppPkg and Python will be in \Build\AppPkg\DEBUG_MYTOOLS\X64\
  4. Create directories and copy Python files on DUET USB drive
    • Do not use Python binaries from python_uefi.7z, copy newly generated
    • Read instructions in \AppPkg\Applications\Python\PythonReadMe.txt


Tested on:

  • Linux 3.2.6 x32 (Mint/Ubuntu)
  • Linux 2.6.32 x32 (Ubuntu)
  • Fedora 20 LXDE 64bit

Creating a Live Linux image with CHIPSEC:

  1. Download things you will need:
  2. Use liveusb-creator to image a USB stick with the desired linux image. Include as much persistent storage as possible.
  3. Reboot to USB
  4. Update and install necessary packages #> yum install kernel kernel-devel python python-devel gcc nasm
  5. Copy chipsec to the USB stick

Installing CHIPSEC:

  1. Build Linux driver for CHIPSEC
    • #> cd source/drivers/linux
    • #> make
  2. Load CHIPSEC driver in running system
    • #> cd source/drivers/linux
    • #> chmod 755
    • #> sudo ./ or sudo make install
  3. Run CHIPSEC
    • #> cd source/tool
    • #> sudo python (or #> sudo python
  4. Remove CHIPSEC driver after using

    • #> sudo make uninstall

3. Usage

Using CHIPSEC as a standalone utility

Open elevated Windows command shell (CMD.EXE) as Administrator

  • In command shell, run > python --help
USAGE: [options]
-m --module             specify module to run (example: -m common.bios)
-a --module_args        additional module arguments, format is 'arg0,arg1..'
-v --verbose            verbose mode
-l --log                output to log file

-p --platform           explicitly specify platform code. Should be among the supported platforms:
                        [ SNB | IVB | JKT | BYT | IVT | HSW ]
-n --no_driver          chipsec won't need kernel mode functions so don't load chipsec driver
-i --ignore_platform    run chipsec even if the platform is not recognized
-e --exists             chipsec service has already been manually installed and started (driver loaded).
-x --xml                specify filename for xml output (JUnit style).
-t --moduletype         run tests of a specific type (tag).
   --list_tags          list all the available options for -t,--moduletype
-I --import             specify additional path to load modules from

Use "--no-driver" command-line option if the module you are executing does not require loading kernel mode driver Chipsec won't load/unload the driver and won't try to access existing driver

Use "--exists" command-line option if you manually installed and start chipsec driver (see "install_readme" file). Otherwise chipsec will automatically attempt to create and start its service (load driver) or open existing service if it's already started

  • you can also use CHIPSEC to access various hardware resources: > python help

Using CHIPSEC as Python package

  • The directory should contain file ''.
  • Install CHIPSEC into your system's site-packages directory: # python install

Compiling CHIPSEC executables on Windows

  • Directories "bin/" should already contain compiled CHIPSEC binaries: "chipsec_main.exe", "chipsec_util.exe"
  • To run all security tests run "chipsec_main.exe" from "bin" directory: # chipsec_main.exe
  • To access hardware resources run "chipsec_util.exe" from "bin" directory: # chipsec_util.exe

If directory "bin" doesn't exist, then you can compile CHIPSEC executables:

  • Install "py2exe" package from
  • From root chipsec directory run "" as follows: # python build_exe_<platform>.py py2exe
  • chipsec_main.exe, chipsec_util.exe executables and required libraries will be created in "bin/" directory

4. CHIPSEC Components/Structure

Core components                   - main application logic and automation functions                   - utility functions (access to various hardware resources)
chipsec/                - chipset detection
chipsec/                 - logging functions
chipsec/                   - reading from/writing to files 
chipsec/          - common include file for modules 
chipsec/helper/        - OS helper: wrapper around platform specific code that invokes kernel driver
chipsec/helper/          - support for JUnit compatible XML output (-x command-line option)

HW Abstraction Layer (HAL)

chipsec/hal/                      - components responsible for access to hardware (Hardware Abstraction Layer):
chipsec/hal/                - Access to PCIe config space
chipsec/hal/              - Database of PCIe vendor and device IDs
chipsec/hal/            - Access to physical memory
chipsec/hal/                - Access to CPU resources (for each CPU thread): Model Specific Registers (MSR), IDT/GDT
chipsec/hal/               - Access to MMIO (Memory Mapped IO) BARs and Memory-Mapped PCI Configuration Space (MMCFG)
chipsec/hal/                - Access to SPI Flash parts
chipsec/hal/              - Microcode update specific functionality (for each CPU thread)
chipsec/hal/                 - Access to Port I/O Space
chipsec/hal/              - Access to I/O Ranges
chipsec/hal/              - Access to SMBus Controller in the PCH
chipsec/hal/               - Main UEFI component using platform specific and common UEFI functionality
chipsec/hal/        - Common UEFI functionality (EFI variables, db/dbx decode, etc.)
chipsec/hal/      - Platform specific UEFI functionality (parsing platform specific EFI NVRAM, capsules, etc.)
chipsec/hal/         - CPU Interrupts specific functions (SMI, NMI)
chipsec/hal/               - CMOS memory specific functions (dump, read/write)
chipsec/hal/              - CPUID information
chipsec/hal/     - SPI Flash Descriptor binary parsing functionality

OS/Environment Helpers

chipsec/helper/win/               - Windows helper
chipsec/helper/linux/             - Linux helper
chipsec/helper/efi/               - UEFI/EFI shell helper

Platform Configuration

chipsec/cfg/                      - platform specific configuration includes:
chipsec/cfg/             - common configuration 
chipsec/cfg/<platform>.py         - configuration for a specific <platform>

CHIPSEC utility command-line scripts

chipsec/utilcmd/                  - command-line extensions for
chipsec/utilcmd/<command>  - implements "chipsec_util <command>" command-line extension

CHIPSEC modules (security tests, tools)

chipsec/modules/                            - modules including tests or tools (that's where most of the chipsec functionality is)
chipsec/modules/common/                     - modules common to all platforms
chipsec/modules/<platform_code>/            - modules specific to <platform_code> platform

chipsec/modules/tools/                      - security tools based on CHIPSEC framework (fuzzers, etc.)

Auxiliary components

bist.cmd                                    - built-in self test for various basic HW functionality to make sure it's not broken                                    - setup script to install CHIPSEC as a package

Executable build scripts

<CHIPSEC_ROOT>/build/build_exe_*.py         - make files to build Windows executables

5. CHIPSEC Extension Modules and API

In the most basic sense, a platform module is just a python script with a top-level function called check_all(). These modules are stored under the chipsec installation directory in a subdirectory "modules". The "modules" directory contains one subdirectory for each chipset that chipsec supports. Internally the chipsec application uses the concept of a module name, which is a string of the form:


This means module 'common.bios_wp' is a python script called "" that is stored at "\chipsec\modules\common\".

Writing Your Own Platform Modules (security checks)

  • Implement a function called check_all() in your module o Use other chipsec components for support o See 'CHIPSEC Components/API' section

  • Copy your module into the "chipsec/modules/" directory structure o Modules specific to certain chipset should be in "chipsec/modules/" directory o Modules common to all supported chipsets should be in "chipsec/modules/common" directory

  • If a new chipset needs to be added: o Create directory for the new chipset in "chipsec/modules" o Create empty "" in new directory o Modify "chipsec/" to include detection for the chipset you are adding

Using Chipsec in a Python Shell

The component can also be run from a python interactive shell or used in other python scripts. The module contains application logic in the form of a set of python functions for this purpose:

  • run_module('module_path') Immediately calls module.check_all() and returns. Does not affect internal loaded modules list.

  • load_module('module_path') Loads a module into the internal module list for batch processing

  • unload_module('module_path') Unloads a module from the internal module list

  • load_my_modules() Loads all modules from "modules\common" and (if the current chipset is recognized) "modules\" into an internal list for batch processing.

  • run_loaded_modules() Calls the check_all() function from every module in the internal loaded modules list

  • clear_loaded_modules() Empties the internal loaded module list

  • run_all_checks() Calls load_my_modules() followed by run_loaded_modules() This function executes all existing security checks for a given chipset/platform. Calling this function in Python shell is equivalent to executing standalone "" or "chipsec_main.exe"


import chipsec_main         
chipsec_main._cs.init(True) # if chipsec driver is not running
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