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Interview: Infineon products take on counterfeiting

Posted: 21 Jul 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:M2M  malware  IoT  encryption 

Infineon has been building up its Optiga platform—a series of products the company is aiming at counterfeit equipment and data security in machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Earlier this year, they added the Optiga Trust P, a programmable hardware-based solution that generates and stores encryption keys for one-way and mutual authentication. The aim is to protect devices from malware and to control access mechanisms for secure software updates. The programmability gives it some flexibility for adapting to a variety of applications.

Speaking to EE Times Asia, Timo Grassmann, product marketing manager for Infineon's Chipcard and Security division, explained that there are numerous ways to protect systems. An entry-level comprises an encryption key (the private key) stored in software, which is relatively easy to attack, followed by the key stored in a piece of hardware. More complex [and secure] methods include secure chips with full encryption and technological implementations that thwart reading of out power levels to determine the key as well as reverse engineering attacks.

Infineon products take on counterfeiting

Grassmann: With the machinery becoming connected, you have to make sure you are addressing original parts in the machine.

"Depending on the value of the system or device you are trying to protect, ...you [decide] how much money you are prepared to protect it," said Grassmann. He explained that securing the systems makes it difficult and expensive to attack. "Attackers will only do that if there is a good business case for them."

While Infineon has standard remedies covering low-cost applications, such as printer cartridges, to higher value (Optiga Trust P for medical, automotive and smart home applications), the company also develops custom solutions where, for instance, there is a requirement to protect from a specific type of attack. Grassmann disclosed, with some prodding, that the company has developed IP specifically to counter reverse engineering efforts.

Making a case for security, Infineon said the trade in counterfeit products is estimated at $600 billion in 2008 by the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC). The problem has grown by 10,000 per cent over the last two decades and is expected to reach $1.6 trillion next year. That is in the 5-7 per cent range of the world trade. Asia is said to have a significant share of this market with many of the emerging markets in the region being hotspots.


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