News Article

About Anti-Tamper Technology: What Are Anti-Tamper Technologies and Why Do We Need Them?
Source: Company Data ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Space Photonics Inc of Fayetteville, AR

Anti-tamper technologies are used to combat adversaries against reverse engineering of critical system elements and highly sensitive information. A tamper event on critical technology in this age of information can compromise highly classified information and often be the difference between life and death. Anti-reverse engineering technologies encompass many different protective measures for the technological advantages of the United States military and allies.
Using the latest Anti-Tamper technologies, one can protect against reverse engineering, by having the ability to monitor, detect, resist, and respond, allowing for strategic advantage to be maintained.
While it has become very common to hear about iPhones and similar devices to be duplicated exactly in places like China, businesses are deciding to use protective measures as well to deter foreign entities from stealing ground breaking and profitable technologies.

Methods of Attack:

When a critical component is operating in the field, such as personal electronics, on-board electronics, and unmanned vehicles, it is crucial that these technologies are not compromised. Adversaries may attempt to destroy or completely deactivate a device.

Acquisition and Duplication
Another method of attack is stealing and duplicating classified technology. This gives adversaries a significant advantage if they are able to use your own technology against you and understand everything about it; that is a major loss of strategic advantage. If bypassing physical barriers is possible, they can look at critical circuit designs and hardware innovations that may have taken years to create. X-Ray examination is also used for reverse engineering when bypassing a physical barrier will be destructive to the technology.

Anti-Tamper materials may consist of a type of enclosure (metal, plastic, etc.), intelligent paint, one or multi-component epoxies for chip encapsulation with glob tops, tamper resistant coatings, and high resistance conformal coatings. All of these materials have been developed as countermeasures to strengthen one's advantage and come either with or without sensing capabilities. The more layers of security an adversary must defeat to compromise operational intelligence, the better. Using certain materials and sensors for tamper-resistance, detection, and response, tamper events can either be prevented or recognized in time to prevent disclosure of critical information.

Materials exist for a wide variety of applications; there are materials and deposition techniques for very thin sensor coatings, nano-scale sensor arrays, and materials that can block imaging attempts, for example by x-ray.
The future holds an array of possibilities, for example: preventing data transmission through specific wavelengths, extreme toughness using nano-strengthened material layers, key storage elimination, nano-sized mechanical systems, and much more, physical-unclonable functions, quantum entanglement encryptions or communications, etc.

Systems and Software
Anti-Tamper systems and software include methods of implementing software or embedded system design decisions that obstructs or prevents an adversaries access to critical program information. The methods include obfuscation of information and source code, the use of encryption and security keys, side channel attack protection, and reactive tamper event circuits.

Adversaries may either physically or non-locally interact with a piece of technology and then use rootkits, backdoors, code injection, subverting authentication, side channel attacks, and disabling security to access the critical program information (CPI) inside.

Luckily, there are several means of protection against malicious attacks.

Space Photonics offers:

Source Code Obfuscation
This makes code disassembly difficult for adversaries and is easily incorporated as a pre-compiler. Protections planned include anti-debugging, code flattening, fingerprinting, dynamic code execution, and simultaneous multi-threading.

X-Ray Blocking Materials
Ideal for glop tops, protecting circuit boards and CPI.

Nano-Lock Sensor Arrays
Allows for intrusion detection, unique key for circuit locking, random number generation, and Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) Applications

Intelligent Intrusion Detection
Provides non-imprinting key storage and out-of-band embedded AT sensor monitoring while protecting the key and system memory.

X-Ray Assisted Understanding and Recovery
This verified foundry changes to the integrated circuit (IC) and compares the design with x-ray scanning. These design files guide the image processing algorithm to find variations, tag differences, and analyze for malicious intent.

FPGA Management
A stacked PCB with a reconfigurable FPGA system and anti-tamper connectivity designed for on-the-fly partial reconfiguration. This managed FPGA has bitstream decryption, security management, pin for pin compatible with COTS FPGA, protected configuration pins, and JTAG Honeypot ready.