Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Machines with built-in copy protection

Date:
December 7, 2012
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Pirated goods cost industry billions, and expensive industrial goods like machining systems are becoming a growing target. Scientists are turning the tables on the forgers by studying their methods and developing anti-counterfeit solutions.

Pirated goods cost German industry billions, and expensive industrial goods like machining systems are becoming a growing target. Scientists are turning the tables on the forgers by studying their methods and developing anti-counterfeit solutions.
Credit: Image courtesy of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Pirated goods cost German industry billions, and expensive industrial goods like machining systems are becoming a growing target. Scientists are turning the tables on the forgers by studying their methods and developing anti-counterfeit solutions.

The annual cost to industry of illegal copies of branded products is estimated at a staggering 650 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, and German machine tool manufacturers are becoming an increasingly popular target for pirating operations. Around one third of all companies have seen their business eroded by cheap imitations of their products, especially manufacturers of textile machines, compressors and plastics processing equipment. "Most companies have absolutely no idea just how easily their products can be copied," says Bartol Filipovic, head of the Product Protection department at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Applied and Integrated Security AISEC in Garching near Munich. The AISEC advises companies on how best to protect their products and IT services from unlawful attacks on their proprietary rights.

In the world of industrial machines, there are forgeries of almost everything that can be copied, from housing design to instruction manuals. The most critical elements are those that give a product its "intrinsic value": electronic circuits and software that constitute its distinctive characteristics. This makes embedded systems with measurement, control, or signal processing functions prime targets for forgers. Product pirates tend to steer clear of getting their own hands dirty, preferring to engage the services of those offering "reverse engineering." This involves performing the same development process only in the opposite direction, which begins by analyzing exactly how the hardware is put together and creating circuit diagrams of the original product. Reverse engineers can then rip the software and reconstruct the machine's control system and functions, thereby gaining access to the manufacturer's key know-how.

In addition to conducting research, AISEC's most important role is instructive. Many companies react only once counterfeits of their own products have surfaced on the market. Although it is then too late to prevent fake copies, it is possible to tag the original so that it can be distinguished from imitations. The aviation industry marks safety-critical spare parts with copy-resistant holograms; it is also possible to build a kind of indelible electronic fingerprint into the circuit. But taking any number of safety precautions is not going to be enough to deter manufacturers of fake products, and trade in them can only be stopped when customs officers, distributors and customers are all equipped with the devices needed to read and decode the markings. As this is often not the case, companies should see to it that suitable protection mechanisms are placed deep within the hardware when developing each new product range. The optimum scenario is for clients to consult AISEC before completing this phase, and have their developers share the proposed hardware setup, circuit diagrams and software with AISEC's product protection team -- in strictest confidence, of course. AISEC's researchers analyze this information to identify any weaknesses and offer suggestions for making the product more secure.

Targeted technical methods guard against forgery

One option is to install cryptographic devices that encrypt the data stored within the machine. These devices generate the corresponding decryption key based on the duration of electrical signals on the microchip. The signals emitted by other chips, even those from the same production batch, will be of a slightly different duration, rendering the key unusable. Another option is to use hardwired control units. These purpose-built chips make it extremely difficult for offenders to rip the software and run it using standard chips built into product imitations. However, it is possible for companies to safeguard computer programs without the need for special hardware; for instance by adopting obfuscation techniques. It is definitely worthwhile for companies to analyze and develop suitable technical safeguards, says Bartol Filipovic. "The service we provide is less costly than the damages inflicted by product piracy." The cost of such services varies according to the scope of analysis and the extent of the protection required.

Through its advice, AISEC aims to buy companies as much time as possible. Companies that have implemented AISEC recommendations enjoy at least five to ten years relief from attacks by product counterfeiters. This time lead is crucial for companies to protect their expensive investments. The technological know-how required to manufacture industrial goods does not go out of date as quickly as that for consumer goods, making it thoroughly worthwhile for forgers to copy a machine even if it has already been on the market for five years. Equipping goods with the latest protection methods means that forgers would simply be wasting their time. "I'm not aware of a single case where someone has successfully broken through our safeguards," says Filipovic.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Machines with built-in copy protection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207090441.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2012, December 7). Machines with built-in copy protection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207090441.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Machines with built-in copy protection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207090441.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins