In 2009 and 2013 respectively US companies Intel and AMD began inserting malicious code into their CPUs. On Intel processors this code was inserted into the Intel Management Engine Firmware. This allowed for a malicious program to be run on a low power secondary processor independent of the main CPU. One of the malicious features added was advertised as allowing remote access to the machine. On the surface it seemed to be for the purpose of hiding a backdoor in plain sight. While convenient for administering systems this proprietary component posed a significant security threat. Such functionality has been around at the OS level for a very long time. The big difference was it could be added or removed at the users whim and you didn't have to trust the CPU to honor your requests.
Unfortunately this functionality has been rolled out in such a way that it can not be properly audited, disabled, or removed. Because Intel has refused to release the source code to this component and has signed the code we have an incomplete picture of this malicious software that runs on nearly all modern computing devices. Thanks to revelations about other privacy invasive malicious activities by the US government particularly in relation to gag orders it would be inconceivable that a backdoor has not been installed in every CPU designed by US companies. We know similar functionality exists in both Intel and AMD CPUs too. This basically means every modern desktop and laptop computer on the market.
This has been a known and somewhat hidden issue for quite some time. Unfortunately developing a CPU is no simple matter. What these features demonstrate is the critical importance of having a complete set of source available for every component. To that end we've been working. To date we have the sources for many critical components including wireless and with the development of a new line-up of ARM based hardware we can add CPUs to that list. However having a prototype is not the same thing as being able to get backdoor-free hardware. For that there must be sufficient demand and resources to initiate manufacturing. For that we need your help. To get involved check out our Crowd Funding Campaign.