How Microchip’s Authentication Chip Makes IoT Devices More Secure

Posted on March 15, 2021 by Matthew Russell

From garage doors to industrial maintenance systems to medical equipment, wireless control has the potential to make all our lives easier. It also has the potential to expose users to significant risk when security is taken for granted.

There are more devices connected to the internet today than there are people on Earth. Each of those devices can expose personal data or business secrets whenever a connection is opened to the internet — or even another device. Information that should be kept private can be left vulnerable to those with malicious intent.

Without proper security layers in place, threats like the Mirai botnet can bring down more than just a few computers, and put millions of users at risk.

With the right solution in place, you shouldn’t be losing any sleep.

DornerWorks helps companies develop products that make their customers lives easier.
DornerWorks helps companies develop products that make their customers lives easier.

DornerWorks has been developing connected products for years across many markets. We’ve developed prosthetic devices that can be updated over a wireless connection, networked industrial washers and dryers that allow owners to monitor and service their machines with greater efficiency, and designed the embedded technology in a line of consumer recreational products that give users freedom to enjoy life while their dinner cooks. With a companion app, all these devices can be operated and monitored from a smartphone, giving users the freedom to operate their devices anywhere and anytime. However, without a secure connection, these connected products have the potential to expose a user’s important and sensitive data. That’s where Microchip Technology’s ATECC608 CryptoAuthentication™ device comes in.

Each time a user interacts with the device through the mobile app, they send encrypted data to it over a wireless connection. The keys to decrypt the data are hidden in Microchip’s ATECC608 CryptoAuthentication™ device. When the keys are needed, encrypted data is sent to the chip, where it is decrypted and passed on.

“This allows the process of encryption and decryption to happen in a secure fashion,” says DornerWorks IoT engineer Raymond Smith. “There’s less of a chance of that key getting leaked out or probed by people who don’t need access to it.”

The authentication chip primarily works with asymmetric encryption. A software-based encryption engine on the main CPU can perform simple symmetric encryption but symmetric keys are encrypted by keys on the security chip.

The root of trust always goes back to the security chip.

“It handles that process so that we don’t have to spend as much processing power on our main processor for it,” Smith says.

The Espire Elbow enables greater mobility for amputees.
The Espire Elbow enables greater mobility for amputees.

Microchip offers code libraries that work well with its whole ecosystem of components. This makes it beneficial to base an entire platform on Microchip components. For example, a medical device company’s prosthetic elbow is bringing freedom of movement to patients around the world. The intuitive design of this device makes it easier for prosthetists to adapt the prosthetic to their patient’s needs, like if they need to adjust how myoelectric signals generated in a patient’s muscle tissue are translated between electrodes and the elbow motor.

The device was built with hardware, software and firmware expertise of DornerWorks engineers and includes two Microchip SAM E70 ARM® Cortex®-M7 microcontrollers driving the main control and digital signal processing (DSP) boards. Microchip devices used for myo-control signal processing can simultaneously compute complex math functions that enable secure Over-the-Air (OTA) firmware updates and perform real-time signal analysis, while meeting the elbow’s stringent power budget requirements and saving battery life.

There are many other ways to show how Microchip devices can be used to enhance the security or capability of your products, but the outcome we all want to achieve is to enjoy our time spent with friends and family, free from the worries of cyberthreats.

If you want your customers to experience that outcome, schedule a meeting today with our team and together we’ll map out a plan to turn your product ideas into reality.

Matthew Russell
by Matthew Russell