Updatable Chips for a Safer Internet of Things

Members of project ALESSIO optimize security solutions for embedded systems

chips
Member of project ALESSIO will develop updatable security chips for embedded systems. (Image: Infineon)

Whether it’s Industrie 4.0, self-driving cars or smart home solutions – connected machines and high-value goods need security mechanisms that can be updated. The objective of the ALESSIO research is to develop and assess these security mechanisms. In this projectunder the leadership of Infineon Technologies AG, The Technical University of Munich (TUM) collaborates with companies like Siemens AG and the Munich-based Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Security.

Every new connected device in the Internet of Things is a potential target: sensitive data and information that are not sufficiently protected could be captured and used for further attacks.

This is why reliable protection for safety-critical information is based on a combination of software and hardware. The hardware – a security chip – is comparable to a safe: a highly protected area in which data and security keys are stored separately from the software. But due to the long life-span of industrial facilities e.g. manufacturers need to be able to respond to changed or new attack methods. Hence the data and security-relevant information in these devices and industrial plants have to be updatable.

Three Prototypes Will Demonstrate Feasibility

Within the next three years, the ALESSIO research partners will develop updatable security solutions for such embedded systems. One of the approaches is a conventional hardware-based Secure Element with updatable software. A Secure Element in complex, programmable logic devices (FPGA, field-programmable gate array) is also underway. In the end, three practice-oriented prototypes will show the solutions’ feasibility and functional capabilities.

The project runs until the end of 2019 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with approximately Euro 3.9 million.