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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ensuring long term secure storage of data

By Nick Flaherty

Keeping data such as health records secure for decades is a major challenge.

Researchers from the Collaborative Research Centre at the Technical University in Darmstadt (Germany) have developed a system that will ensure decades of safe storage for sensitive health data in a joint project with Japanese and Canadian partners. The system will go into trial operation in Japan in the coming weeks.

A major challenge are the technological developments that will occur over this extended time period, as these have an enormous impact on the security of existing cryptographic schemes. “All encryption methods used today will become insecure over the course of the next few years and decades”, explains Professor Johannes Buchmann at the Collaborative Research Centre. “The attackers’ computing power will increase and their attacks will improve. Therefore we can assume that all encrypted data will be compromised in 20 years if not sooner”.

Buchmann and his team have been working to prevent this since 2015, in cooperation with Japanese research institute NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology). Together they collaborate on the project “LINCOS – Long-Term Integrity and Confidentiality Protection System”. In 2017, the Japanese hospital operator Kochi Health Science Center and the Canadian company ISARA joined the project. The LINCOS system is the first to combine information theoretic confidentiality protection with renewable integrity protection. This means that no matter what computing capacity and algorithms are available in the future, noone shall be able to access or modify the protected data.

The guarantee of long-term confidentiality is achieved through a technology called “secret sharing”. The original data set is distributed among several servers in such a way that the individual parts are meaningless. Only when a sufficient number of parts – known as “shares” – are combined, the original data set of the patient file can be reconstructed. If one of the servers is compromised, the captured share is of no use to the attacker. In addition, the distribution is renewed regularly. The integrity, i.e. ensuring that data have not been changed, is achieved by quantum computer-resistant signatures. But even if the scheme utilised is classified as uncertain in the longterm, the researchers have taken precautions: The signature schemes are exchanged regularly. Integrity protection is thereby seamlessly ensured.

Canadian company ISARA, the industrial partner of the project, protects the data during transfer between the hospital and the server operators with quantum computer-resistant encryption. This is the third component of the LINCOS system. In the future, the researchers want to add yet another level of security that they have already realised in prototype with the Japanese team: quantum key exchange. This procedure guarantees sustainable secure keys, since it is impossible for an attacker to intercept the key exchange. More than 65 scientists from cryptography, quantum physics, system security and software engineering work at the Centre, as well as a team in the quantum laboratory at TU Darmstadt.

“The sustainable protection of electronic health records is only one example of areas where sustainable security is urgently needed. In our digitised world, we produce an unimaginable amount of sensitive data every day, which must remain confidential and unchanged over a long period of time, for instance in the implementation of Industry 4.0 which is crucial to Germany as an industrial nation. Policymakers are called upon to ensure the guaranteed long-term protection of our data,” said Buchmann.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Murata shrinks NBIoT module

By Nick Flaherty

Murata has laid claim to the world’s smallest narrow-band IoT (NBIoT) cellular wireless module.

The LBAD0ZZ1RX measures just 15.6 mm x 14.0 mm x 2.2 mm, is fabricated on a PCB with a metal casing, and is designed for use in compact, battery powered IoT/IIoT applications. The module integrates a HiSilicon Hi2115 single-die wireless SoC device that provides the radio transceiver, baseband and application processor functions with a ten year battery life. 

The module also hosts a DC-DC converter, a power management IC, wireless front end matching components such as baluns and low pass filters and an RF switch. The HiSilicon Hi2115 includes an Arm Cortex M0 processor core running at 40 MHz and equipped with 64 kBytes of SRAM and 256 kBytes of Flash that controls module communications using the industrial standard AT command set. The module features a comprehensive set of peripheral interface functions including UART, I²C and SPI along with GPIO and an ADC.

The module conforms to the NB-IoT 3GPP release 13 narrow-band standard and can operate in the low and middle bands.

Mass production is scheduled for Q1 2019.

Related stories:

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Solar powered autonomous camera can be stuck anywhere

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at CSEM in Switzerland have developed the world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be deployed like a sticker, opening up new possibilities for sensors in the internet of things (IoT). 

The patented Witness IoT camera is solar-powered and includes a specially designed CMOS image sensor consuming less than 700 microwatts. Future versions will include VGA resolution as well as embedded face recognition.

CSEM has used its experience in the design and development of ultra-low-power microsystems to develop a fully autonomous portable camera that can be deployed quickly and easily via an adhesive patch or magnet.

“Enabling a range of applications from unattended surveillance and camera traps to wildlife observation, Witness perfectly embodies CSEM’s technological strategy,” said Alain-Serge Porret, VP Integrated and Wireless Systems at the Swiss Research and Technology Organization (CSEM). “We aim to deliver autonomous, low-energy-consuming devices combining both intelligence and efficiency.”

The patented Witness IOT camera measures 80 x 80 mm and 4mm thick, consuming less than 1mW of power in active mode that comes from a flexible, high-efficiency photovoltaic cell with an adhesive surface. A high-dynamic range (120dB) CMOS image sensor consuming less than 700uW @ 10 fps for 320x320 pixels includes intelligent embedded software allows triggering by scene–activity detection. The camera records fixed images at 1fps and stores them in flash memory for later USB readout.

Nanominiature contact doubles density and reduces packaging

By Nick Flaherty

TE Connectivity has launched a series of NanoRF modules and contacts that double the density of today’s VITA 67 RF modules for VPX embedded computing applications.

The high frequency nanominiature coax contact is engineered with smaller contacts and a higher RF contact density within a multi-position module. This design enables smaller packaging and saves valuable space. Half-size modules can support up to 12 RF contacts and full-size modules can support 18 contacts or higher, with the option to customise contact count and position.

The blind-mateable, float-mounted backplane contacts support module-to-module or box-to-box architecture. While they are designed for 0.047-inch coax cable, multiple cable types are available to fit the application’s needs. To bring high frequency capability into a high density modular package, the contacts support frequencies up to 70 GHz.

The NanoRF features a floating insert on the backplane side, with guide features to pre-align the array of contacts before they engage. This results in reliable mating and consistent RF performance up to 500 mating cycles.

“NanoRF offers high frequency coax contact density in a rugged modular package, providing reliable RF performance in harsh environments,” said Mike Walmsley, global product manager for TE’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine division. “It has been tested to VITA 72’s high vibration standards and is ready for VPX open architecture under VITA 67.3 — with a roadmap for expansion into other high-density packages.”

Monday, November 05, 2018

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe Power

. Hyundai to add transparent solar roof to its cars

. Zinc producer looks to expand with US accelerator

. NXP USB Power Delivery 3.0 powers ASUS smartphone

. First rechargeable system that links directly to the Internet of Things

. Designing the smart grid with obsolescence in mind

. Perovskite patents double in last two years

NEW POWER PRODUCTS . High drain and extended temperature lithium coin cells for the IoT

. Shrinking a supercapacitor

. Chip scale Li-Ion protection for wearables

. World's smallest 1005 power inductor for wearables

. Pentek: Critical Techniques for High-Speed A/D Converters in Real-Time Systems

. Coilcraft: An introduction to inductor specifications

CEVA adds open neural net support to compiler

By Nick Flaherty
CEVA has added support for the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format to the latest release of its CEVA Deep Neural Network (CDNN) compiler.

ONNX is an open format created by Facebook, Microsoft and AWS to enable interoperability and portability within the AI community, allowing developers to use the right combinations of tools for their project, without being ‘locked in’ to any one framework or ecosystem. The ONNX standard ensures interoperability between different deep learning frameworks, giving developers freedom to train their neural networks using any machine learning framework and then deploy it using another AI framework. The ONNX support allows developers to import models generated using any ONNX-compatible framework, and deploy them on the CEVA-XM vision DSPs and NeuPro AI processors.

"CEVA is fully committed to ensuring an open, interoperable AI ecosystem, where AI application developers can take advantage of the features and ease-of-use of the various deep learning frameworks most suitable to their specific use case,” said Ilan Yona, vice president and general manager of CEVA's Vision Business Unit. “By adding ONNX support to our CDNN compiler technology, we provide our CEVA-XM and NeuPro customers and ecosystem partners with much broader capabilities to train and enrich their neural network-based applications.”

The CEVA Deep Neural Network (CDNN) creates fully-optimized runtime software for the DSPs and NeuPro AI processors. Targeted for mass-market embedded devices, CDNN incorporates a broad range of network optimizations, advanced quantization algorithms, data flow management and fully-optimized compute CNN and RNN libraries into a holistic solution that enables cloud-trained AI models to be deployed on edge devices for inference processing.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Top stories in October

By Nick Flaherty

FreeRTOS takes the top spot in October, as Infineon sees it as a key way forward for microcontrollers in the Internet of Things, but the first commercial 5G call is also up there, along with antennas you can spray on anything.

We have yet to see how the changes to WiFi technology names will pan out, with a move to naming generations rather than standards, but all the signs are that the embedded designers are ignoring it and still using the relevant standards as the key designators, which is good news. 

11 Oct 2018

First Secure Cloud Controller Flash Memory for IoT Devices

By Nick Flaherty

NanoLock Security and Winbond are set to launch the first system to securely protect and manage IoT devices from the device’s persistent memory all the way to the cloud.

“As IoT devices become more connected, the cyber threat to those devices also increases. The secure data storage is indispensable in protecting data integrity and confidentiality to prevent cyber threats,” said Hung-Wei Chen, Marketing Director, Winbond. “With nearly zero impact on our bill of materials, adding NanoLock’s IoT security solution and management platform to our secure flash memory chips allows us to provide the essential level of protection for our customers implementing these complex and secure IoT devices.”

The NanoLock and Winbond end-to-end solution ensures IoT devices, such as automotive ECUs/MCUs, cameras, ICS solutions and routers, are protected as well as managed from the cloud. The OS/CPU agnostic solution guarantees flash-to-cloud integrity and mutual protection during regular operations and firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates, from the production line and through and after the device’s end of life, all regardless of available processor power, energy consumption and even if the end device is inevitably hacked.

“Securing the flash memory is the most fundamental aspect of device-to-cloud protection. Our collaboration with Winbond signifies the seriousness of the IoT industry’s intent to tackle life-critical vulnerabilities stemming from unprotected IoT systems,” said Eran Fine, CEO, NanoLock. “Our joint solution ensures the network of IoT devices are fully protected and managed during operation and during the update process from the embedded layer to the cloud controlling these devices.”

The NanoLock and Winbond solution is already being tested with multiple joint customers piloting the IoT security and management platform