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Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

In-circuit programmer for off-site production
17 May 2017, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

For high-volume production it is common to employ a contract manufacturer (CM). This setup introduces a new threat for the intellectual property (IP) of the original owner. To limit the risk of IP theft and overproduction, Segger developed the new production programming system Flasher Secure.

CMs have access to customer IP and large quantities of the components they are contracted to produce. It is essential that the original owner of the IP controls their IP and the production volume. Flasher Secure does both. To prevent counterfeit devices, the Flasher reads out a unique ID from the system it is going to program. This ID is sent to a server that is under physical control of the IP owner. This server validates the ID and determines whether a programming run is allowed. In this case, a signature is generated for the device. The signature is sent back to the Flasher which stores the signature inside the target device it programs. This method of secure programming is also in the best interest of the CM, as it can boast that the production floor will protect the customer’s IP.

Firmware running on the system, or an external application communicating with the system, can verify that the system is genuine. With an additional signature for the firmware, the bootloader in the system can also verify that the firmware is genuine and unmodified. If any of the above verification fails, the device stops working. As each signature is unique for each device, it is not possible to create a non-approved system by simply copying the firmware.

The signature generation uses a proven asymmetric algorithm where the private key is not accessible by anyone but the IP owner. This prevents attackers from forging a signature for a given ID. All communication between Flasher and server is encrypted and authenticated by a secure SSL/TLS connection to prevent unauthorised access. All actions are logged and accessible through an administration interface to provide as much transparency to the IP owner as possible.

The programmers are designed with multiple interfaces, making them easy to integrate into any production environment. In mass production environments, ATE or other production control units can access the Flasher for programming, including serial numbers and patch data.

For more information visit www.segger.com/flasher-secure.html


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