Maxim Integrated Introduces Chip That Safeguards Data by Erasing It

Jan. 31, 2019
Maxim Integrated Introduces Chip That Safeguards Data by Erasing It

Maxim Integrated introduced a line of chips that act as security supervisors for embedded devices, encrypting data for the central processor while preventing physical tampering with the device. The Silicon Valley company aims to make it easier for customers to add stronger security to Internet of Things devices. The challenge has been doing so without adding too much cost.

The chips support cryptography technologies ranging from the data encryption standard (3DES) to the advanced encryption standard (AES), among others. The company also designed the chips to thwart hackers that have physical access to the hardware and can swipe secretive data by tampering with it. These attacks aim to uncover the cryptographic keys used to lock down all the device's other data. 

The chips contain tiny temperature and voltage sensors to detect any unauthorized tampering, according to Maxim Integrated. They also have a small amount of secure storage for stashing sensitive scraps of data, including cryptographic keys. If anyone attempts to physically dissect the device, the stored data is immediately erased to prevent it from being stolen, the company said.

"Internet of Things devices have now become commonplace in consumer households, which store personal and sensitive data related to the user's day-to-day activities," said Stella Or, product manager in Maxim Integrated's microcontroller, security and software unit, in a statement Monday. "While Internet of Things designers have security top of mind, they are not always experts in this area," she added.

The MAX36010 and MAX36011 cost around 20 percent less than the parts they replace and can be designed into devices 60 percent faster, according to Maxim Integrated. They also consume around 70 percent less current, easing the strain on battery-powered devices, the company said. The chips introduced Monday are targeted at end nodes ranging from factory equipment to household devices like connected thermostats.

"The exponential growth of Internet of Things devices will continue on its upward trend," Julian Watson, senior analyst at IHS Markit, said in a statement. "More IoT devices in the market mean that more of consumers’ personal data is at risk and designers of these devices need to be responsible for ensuring that the IoT ecosystem is genuinely safe and secure for users," he said.

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