Product piracy long ago ceased to be limited exclusively to the consumer goods sector. Industry, too, is increasingly having to combat this problem. Cheap fakes cost business dear: The German mechanical and plant engineering sector alone lost 6.4 billion euros of revenue in 2010, according to a survey by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).
Digital fingerprint makes chips conterfeit-proof. (© Fraunhofer SIT)
Sales losses aside, low-quality counterfeits can also damage a company‘s brand image. Worse, they can even put people‘s lives at risk if they are used in areas where safety is paramount, such as automobile or aircraft manufacture. Patent rights or organizational provisions such as confidentiality agreements are no longer sufficient to prevent product piracy.
Today’s commercially available anti-piracy technology provides a degree of protection, but it no longer constitutes an insurmountable obstacle for the product counterfeiters: Criminals are using scanning electron microscopes, focused ion beams or laser bolts to intercept security keys – and adopting increasingly sophisticated methods.
The Garching-based researchers have already developed two prototypes: A butterfly PUF and a ring oscillator PUF. At present, these modules are being optimized for practical applications. The experts will be at embedded world in Nuremberg (hall 11, stand 203) from March 1-3 to showcase FPGA boards that can generate an individual cryptographic key using a ring oscillator PUF. These allow attack-resistant security solutions to be rolled out in embedded systems.
Dominik Merli | EurekAlert!
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