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Electronic Design

Security Tech Saves Lives And Money

Unless you're old-fashioned and hide your money in a cookie jar, you've probably noticed that more and more personal information is being spread across several technologies, including PDAs, phones, credit cards, laptops, and databases on remote servers you've likely never seen. Yet thanks to companies like Microsoft and their endless security issues, we have become a bit more careful with our data. But are we being careful enough?

Not according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Security breeches where sensitive data is stolen cost U.S. corporations $250 billion annually. Also, the Anti-Gray Market Alliance (AGMA) estimates that $20 billion in stolen IT products moves through the global gray market each year.

But these numbers haven't gone unnoticed. This year's advances in security technologies are helping to keep us and our bottom lines safer from "evil-doers." And as these technologies save money as well as lives, they will provide the basis for major breakthroughs in areas like automobile safety and home security by next year.

We've all seen news reports about thieves who have stolen sensitive data on hard disks from government agencies and big businesses and then posted that data to the Internet or sold it on the black market. To combat this situation, SiliconSystems' SiliconDrive Secure provides a simple yet robust storage technology with customizable security and fast data sanitization.

The device may be configured so critical data and IP is associated with a specific SiliconDrive Secure device. Also, it uses standard encryption techniques to secure data. It automatically erases and sanitizes sensitive data at the rate of a few seconds per gigabyte when it's attached to a new host. And, SiliconDrive Secure helps you:

  • Use host-based industry-standard encryption, such as 128-bit AES, or implement custom key-based encryption to best suit your needs
  • Prevent malicious attempts to overwrite data and prevent unauthorized access
  • Erase and sanitize sensitive data automatically in the event of attempted device access using a different host in only a few seconds per gigabyte
  • Designate up to five " security zones" with varying read/write access, the option to password-protect each zone, and the option to erase only, erase and destroy data, or erase and then program a pattern of meaningless data.

Just like "authentic" designer shoes or jeans, semiconductor IP is illegally produced and sold on the black market. "Fabless" semiconductor companies that rely on several third parties throughout the manufacturing process are exposed to the possibility of theft due to overproduction at the wafer test, packaging, and chip stages of manufacturing.

To combat IP theft, Certicom's novel approach uses software and IP to implement a cryptographic solution based on industry-standard encryption technologies. The product, Certicom Security for Silicon Design Protection, enforces security policies throughout the silicon manufacturing process.

"Keys"are injected into onetime programmable memory during various steps of the manufacturing process (see the figure). The unlock key is derived at power-on reset. If any of the keys are missing because some legitimate process has been bypassed, the chip will be "crippled" and unusable. But if all of the keys are accounted for, legitimately produced chips work as intended.

The ViSe vision sensor technology from CSEM Microelectronics will help keep you out of harm's way too. It applies "smart" preprocessing algorithms to the images it captures using a camera with an integrated vision sensor and a DSP chip that runs specialized algorithms.

The system enables simple engineering of image analysis and response systems targeting the automotive security, home security and automation, robotic, and industrial markets. "Smart" in this case refers to the ability to extract key image features, including contrast strength and orientation prior to shipping data off to the DSP for processing. This drastically reduces the amount of data needed to be processed by the DSP.

ViSe adapts to varying light conditions in real time for broadband monitoring of visual images under any light conditions. Users can program automated responses that don't require constant supervision and interpretation because it enables very accurate instant computer-driven analysis and response based on collected imagery. ViSe also can differentiate between humans and animals, detect automobile lane changes, and sense the motion of intruders.

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