Electronic know-how protection for innovative sensor systems
iC-Haus, IMMS and Wachendorff launch joint BMBF project VE-ARiS
Product piracy has long since arrived in the world of modern highly integrated sensor systems. These systems are used primarily in key industries, such as robotics, automation, drive and laser technology, as well as in safety-critical applications. In addition to massive economic damage to the original developer and manufacturer, counterfeiting and active attacks on critical systems entail serious security risks. Therefore, iC-Haus GmbH, IMMS Institut für Mikroelektronik- und Mechatronik-Systeme gemeinnützige GmbH (IMMS GmbH) and Wachendorff Automation GmbH & Co. KG are developing novel copy protection processes for integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The partners presented details of their three-year joint project "Electronic Knowhow Protection for Innovative Sensor Systems - ARiS", which started in March 2021, at the BMBF's digital conference „Vertrauenswürdige Elektronik“ on April 14.
Counterfeits and copies as a risk for safety-critical systems and economic substance
"Even with simple copies, which are usually also not intensively tested and qualified like original parts, there is a risk of malfunction. The risks in medical technology or autonomous vehicles, for example, go far beyond those of property damage," explains Dr. Heiner Flocke, Managing Director of iC-Haus GmbH and coordinator of the ARiS project. Affected are not only printed circuit boards but also the integrated circuits built into them, which were created in considerable and lengthy development efforts and with the know-how of high-tech companies. Smaller manufacturers, who have made a name for themselves with their chips in medium quantities as key products in the industrial sector, are not spared either.
Two-stage copy protection: camouflage and watermarking as active defense
For this reason, new methods for camouflaging circuits and for weaving in a watermark are being developed at the IMMS to make it more difficult to "sign off" and thus copy integrated circuits and systems. The methods are being investigated by iC-Haus and Wachendorff to determine the extent to which they can be implemented and are robust enough for industrial developments, as well as being supplemented by further camouflage and defense mechanisms.
A method based on machine learning is being developed at IMMS to camouflage circuits.
"We will simulate the perspective of a potential counterfeiter and thus cloud his view already in the design," explains Georg Gläser of IMMS, a specialist in integrating AI methods into design automation. This is possible, for example, by using components with the same appearance but different functions. This makes reverse engineering extremely costly and economically unattractive, Gläser added.
The targeted "watermarks" represent novel defense mechanisms. They are integrated at chip level as a circuit block that acts as a digital signature. With it, the chips are only enabled directly before delivery or commissioning, provided that the sensors also contained in the chip deliver the expected parameters. Personalized watermarks are integrated on printed circuit boards. With an additional defense IC, the circuit board is activated by the sensor system manufacturer.
Validation on industry partners' systems - and beyond
The practical test is being carried out by iC-Haus with a chip development and Wachendorff with a new circuit board design. "In principle, the new methods for copy protection are suitable for all chips and circuit boards. We will validate them with a new type of copy-protected position encoder IC," Flocke elaborates. The chip and PCB will be subjected to extensive laboratory tests, integrated into relevant field environments and tested. "With active defense at board level, we ultimately ensure the originality of all components in a system," explains Robert Wachendorff, Managing Director of Wachendorff Automation GmbH & Co. KG. Both industrial partners have their sights set on incorporating the new processes into their respective product ranges, Flocke summarizes. "Moreover, this is interesting for the entire industry and can generate a standard claim for trustworthy electronics."
The VE-ARiS project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the number 16ME0242.
Support of the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) Rheingau by Wachendorff
We, the Wachendorff Group, have been involved in many social projects in our beautiful region and surrounding area. We have also supported social projects in 2020. The past year was a particularly difficult one for all companies and institutions, with many challenges. Donations and support from outside, especially for social institutions, were very important. In 2020, we were able to donate € 1,000 to the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) Rheingau and thus support the association. We are very happy that we as a company have the opportunity to help the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) in Rheingau and to make many things possible.
The Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) creates a safe environment for children with social and individual disadvantages. The aim here is to compensate for these disadvantages and to provide long-term support for the children, even after they have left school. Short-term admission to the group is also possible, if, for example, there is an illness or separation of the parents. In the first case, the aim is to help the child to successfully complete his or her education. Short-term assistance is about coping with family crises. Often, however, both are mixed. In principle, this offer is open to all who are affected by it.
The Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) offers reliable partners for children and parents. The help is unlimited until the child finishes school. A team of volunteers can help with many problems. From parent counseling to teacher talks, to homework help, from accompanying children to doctor's visits and helping them with applications. The most important part of the work, however, is the provision of a protected in which the children and young people can play together without pressure, learn, eat, talk and be creative, learn, eat, talk and be creative. The members of the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) work on this goal every day.
Due to the Corona pandemic, it is unfortunately not possible for the staff of the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) Rheingau to look after the children's group as usual. Donations have made it possible to take measures such as dividing the group into small groups and extending the hours of care. This prevents contacts and overlapping of care times during the Corona pandemic are prevented.
Door-to-door visits, regular phone calls, counseling and the individual support of the children are the order of the day here. Also online the association would like to offer this, in order to meet the exact needs of the children and young people and thus to be able to guarantee an optimal promotion.
The work is subsidized by the district, but the money does not cover the costs. Expenses for food, handicraft supplies, games, excursions and all other everyday needs are not provided for. Without donations, the Kinderschutzbund (child protection association) Rheingau could not continue this work.
Every donation helps and it is a chance, support for a Rheingau child! We are proud to support this project and to be part of this great and important initiative. We would like say thank you, Mrs. Strobl, the head of the Group Pupil Support, and all the helpers for their commitment.
Hessischer Rundfunk / ARD produces Tagesschau report
On 9 December 2019, a TV team from Hessischer Rundfunk was a guest at Wachendorff to shoot a short report for the "ARD - Tagesschau24" programme. Robert Wachendorff commented on the effects of the economic situation and the outlook for the German mechanical engineering industry.
The report was broadcast on 10 December at 12:14 p.m. and is available in the ARD media library until 17 December 2019.
SPS 2019 - Gift for the 27th trade fair participation
On behalf of the organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, Mrs. Luise Werner (Exhibition Manager) thanked Wachendorff for a total of 27 trade fair participations at the 30th SPS with a small gift.
Wachendorff is one of only 32 companies (now with more than 1,600 exhibitors) that have participated 25 times or more in the SPS trade fair in the last 30 years.
Dirk Rott, Head of Marketing at Wachendorff, happily welcomed the gift and announced the 28th participation in 2020.
Innovator of the Year 2017
Wachendorff Automation was selected by the business magazine brand eins Wissen and Statista, the online statistics portal, as “Innovator of the Year 2017”. Once again, Wachendorff can count itself as one of Germany’s top innovators.