May 3, 2018
|By: Christine Young
Blogger, Maxim Integrated
Security is often an afterthought in the design of internet of things (IoT) devices. Many designers believe that implementing security is expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. Not all of them are experts in techniques like cryptography, either. Yet, incidents like the Mirai botnet attack are clear reminders that smart, connected products can be quite vulnerable.
"Today, as more of our everyday things become internet-enabled, these connected devices are opening avenues for hackers to break into networks. The IoT has ushered in a need for even more robust security. Software-based security is no longer enough. Hardware-based security is better, and secure authenticators offer an affordable means of protection," said Scott Jones, managing director, Embedded Security, at Maxim, during a webinar on the topic.
Jones was part of a panel of experts who discussed hardware security during a webinar that you can now watch on demand. "ChipDNA™: Protecting the Digital World at the Hardware Level" was sponsored by Maxim and Mouser and presented by Electronics 360—IEEE Globalspec. Also on the panel were: John Blyler, founder and CEO, JB Systems Media and Technology; Murray Slovick, principal, IntelligentContent Services; and Warren Savage, general manager, Silvaco.
ChipDNA PUF technology protects embedded designs from invasive attacks.
The panelists discussed how physically unclonable function (PUF) technology, available in Maxim's ChipDNA technology, protects embedded designs against invasive attacks. ChipDNA technology utilizes the random electrical properties of IC devices to implement a PUF. It produces a unique and repeatable root cryptographic key for each IC. If someone tries to attack a PUF circuit, the attack itself causes the electrical characteristics of the circuit to change, further impeding the attack.
Maxim is integrating ChipDNA technology into its security ICs going forward. Using these devices, Jones noted, designers don't have to be cryptography experts to benefit from design protection. And, he added, the emergence of ChipDNA doesn't mean that existing devices are obsolete, as they also have strong security built in for their target applications.
Said Slovick, "A PUF can be looked at as a digital fingerprint that’s unique to an IC because of process variation. Because of that, it can't be easily reverse-engineered if at all. The act of probing a PUF circuit modifies the properties of the circuit—that creates a Catch-22 situation for anybody who tries to hack the circuit."
During the session, Jones highlighted the long-reliability that ChipDNA has demonstrated over stress tests. "Our product can perform to a reliability level in terms of key error rate of less than five parts per billion," he said.
"It's all about evolution with security," said Jones. "If we just do nothing and we're not developing new technology, then it's over for us in terms of being a supplier in embedded security."
Catch the panel discussion today for more hardware security insights.