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Development kit implements four security levels

Posted: 18 May 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded cryptographic processor  full data encryption  CryptoMemory 

Atmel Corp. has offered an economical development kit that can be used for mutual authentication in applications such as smart cards, as well as in anti-counterfeit apps as an alternative to bar code systems. The CryptoMemory is suitable for a nonvolatile memory surrounded by a 64bit embedded cryptographic processor.

The memory, offered in densities of 1-256Kbits, can be divided into as many as 16 configuration and user sections, each with a defined level of read and write access. Four levels of security can be implemented: free access, password protection using eight sets of read-write passwords, mutual authentication using a choice of four sets of 64bit keys and full data encryption. Thus, one smart card could contain data readable to all systems, as well as data requiring authenticated access.

The four levels distinguish the memory from its nearest competitors?password-protected nonvolatile memories from Infineon Technologies and Gemalto. With a high-volume device price ranging from Rs.6.34 (15 cents) to Rs.35.93 (85 cents) each, Atmel is promoting the devices as economical for anti-counterfeit applications.

Within each 2KB configuration memory section, there are four sets of 64bit secret seeds and four sets of 64bit session encryption keys. In mutual authentication mode, the host reads a cryptogram and ID information from the memory, combines that data with its own key information and a random number, and generates a challenge. If the memory can calculate the challenge with a random number received from the host, the host is deemed authentic, and information is shared.

User security preferences are stored in fuse bits, making sure they cannot be read. The Rs.2,111.38 ($49.95) development kit includes a daughtercard with two-wire interface to link to common embedded development environments. The development library is made up of API calls to execute host operations and build a software model of host challenges and authentication operations.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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