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March, 2020


www.us-tech.com


Industrial Flash Memory with Security Features


By Hubertus Grobbel, Head of the Security Products Division, Swissbit AG W


hen devices must be networked, such as in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), embedded system developers are faced


with numerous security challenges. Flash memory producer Swissbit is now offering an innovative approach: security features are integrated into removable industrial-grade memory devices, such as memory cards or USB sticks. The benefits are clear: easy upgradeability and high flexibility. Protecting data from unauthorized access or


subsequent tampering or stopping data communi- cation from being spied upon and tampered with and creating a secure environment are all possible requirements for the development of electronic systems. One component that is required


virtually everywhere is memory, whether for booting, as firmware


Security features


integrated into removable industrial-grade memory devices, such as memory cards or USB sticks, offer benefits that include easy upgradeability and high flexibility.


memory or for logging data. In indus- trial environments, robust flash mem- ory is commonly used. Swissbit spe- cializes in durable storage media with long availability for such markets as industrial, medical and telecommuni- cations.


Counterfeit Protection and Secure Boot


Flash memory modules used in


important devices must comply with minimum standards. Unique identifi- cation, as well as counterfeit and integrity protection are required. Counterfeit devices pose not only an economic threat for producers, but also a risk for users — for example in medical technology. Using uniquely identifiable data


memory ensures that the hardware and software combination in one device complies with the producer’s specifications. Its function in the field must remain constant and defined throughout its entire lifecycle. It is important to be able to trig-


ger test functions, to find out whether the firmware in the memory con- troller is the one expected. Real-time protection that can be read crypto- graphically is critical. This allows for identical storage media to be made uniquely identifiable, enabling a device manufacturer to tightly con- trol its spare parts inventory. Another device-specific applica-


tion is trusted boot. This concept ensures that software can only be run on specific hardware or hardware classes. The boot loader uses an authentication protocol that is only available within the boot environ- ment. As soon as the first phase is started, a hash calculation is applied in the next phases for each subse- quent operation. If the hash calculation is correct,


the decryption key for the next phase is provided. As soon as this cascade is interrupted due to tampering or an error, the system is deemed unreliable and will not even start up. This way, the quality of a device can be strictly


Swissbit PU-50n secure USB 3.1 memory stick.


defined, while benefiting from full flexibility. A secure flash memory card can be used to


manage software licensing and feature activation. Access control, code encryption or digital signa- tures enable definition and management of differ- ent software configurations for products.


Data Encryption Even in its core function as pure data storage,


a flash card gains additional application options with additional security features. Audit trails, for


Continued on next page


Page 69


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