Yup. Some of this is more systematic than even my cynical ass suspected. It's a hard problem because attacker controlled environments are unassailable, and doing intrusive things to discourage casual cheating punish the honest and give the serious cheaters more effect size.
Article note: I was inspecting a batch of Apex APM32F103CB boards (drop-in clones of STM32F103 parts) I (knowingly) bought before reading this have been thinking about the ethics of the situation.
From the die shots some other people have posted, it looks like they're not straight die rip-offs from this kind of BS, but it is a similar sort of parasitism.
Taiwan has faced existential conflict with China for its entire existence and has been targeted by China's state-sponsored hackers for years. But an investigation by one Taiwanese security firm has revealed just how deeply a single group of Chinese hackers was able to penetrate an industry at the core of the Taiwanese economy, pillaging practically its entire semiconductor industry.
At the Black Hat security conference today, researchers from the Taiwanese cybersecurity firm CyCraft plan to present new details of a hacking campaign that compromised at least seven Taiwanese chip firms over the past two years. The series of deep intrusions—called Operation Skeleton Key due to the attackers' use of a "skeleton key injector" technique—appeared aimed at stealing as much intellectual property as possible, including source code, software development kits, and chip designs. And while CyCraft has previously given this group of hackers the name Chimera, the company's new findings include evidence that ties them to mainland China and loosely links them to the notorious Chinese state-sponsored hacker group Winnti, also sometimes known as Barium, or Axiom.