Technology 2 min read

Circuit Designers Develop new Security Feature for IoT Devices

Researchers from Rice University have developed a new form of security feature for IoT connected devices which is faster, smaller, and more energy efficient than its predecessors.

Kaiyuan Yang holding a prototype of the new security feature he and his partner created for IoT devices | Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Kaiyuan Yang holding a prototype of the new security feature he and his partner created for IoT devices | Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Two integrated circuit designers from Rice University plan to present a new security feature for IoT devices at this year’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

To date, current methods of safeguarding IoT devices use physical unclonable function technology (PUFs) to produce unique digital fingerprints. PUFs take advantage of the physical imperfections of microchips to create unique security keys to authenticate devices linked to the IoT.

According to Rice’s Kaiyuan Yang and Dai Li, their new PUF technology is ten times more efficient than available PUFs today. Instead of one, the duo’s PUF generates two unclonable fingerprints.

The team’s security feature utilizes the ‘zero-overhead’ approach. This creates keys using existing PUF components but does not require additional space and latency due to its design. Aside from that, Yang and Li’s PUF design also makes it 15 times more energy efficient than other versions.

The New PUF Security Feature

Yang and Li explained that PUF fingerprints provide the same benefits as human fingerprints.

“First, they are unique,” Yang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

“You don’t have to worry about two people having the same fingerprint. Second, they are bonded to the individual. You cannot change your fingerprint or copy it to someone else’s finger. And finally, a fingerprint is unclonable. There’s no way to create a new person who has the same fingerprint as someone else.”

By using a PUF security feature, chipmakers can produce private keys for the encryption of IoT device chips at a lower cost.

While PUF is not exactly a new technology, Yang and Li’s version is exceptional because of its reliability, energy efficiency, and the area needed for implementation on a chip.

The new security feature reportedly remained stable even when exposed to varying environmental conditions. It uses static voltage instead of the transistor power and only occupies 2.37 square micrometers of a production chip.

Read More: 5 IoT Devices That Completely Miss The Mark

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

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