Abu Dhabi developing ‘unhackable’ electronic chip

UAE – The National newspaper reports that cyber security experts in Abu Dhabi have found a way to create an “unhackable” electronic chip that could potentially be used in phones, cars, and computers.

With the evolution of technology and manufacturing process giving way to less safety, researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi have just received a grant to deploy their work into a solution.

“This is the first prototype for a chip that has security features built in at the hardware level,” said Ozgur Sinanoglu, associate dean of engineering and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university. “The purpose of this chip is a proof-of-concept to show that we can take any chip design, apply our software on the design to lock [it], and create trustworthy locked chips that are resilient to hardware-level threats such as counterfeiting, piracy, reverse-engineering and tampering.”

His research at the university’s Centre for Cyber Security on hardware security and trust is being funded by the US National Science Foundation, the US Department of Defence and the UAE-owned semiconductor manufacturing company Global Foundries, as well as Mubadala Technology.

“We take smart devices for granted but can we really trust them?” asked prof Sinanoglu, who is also the director for design at the excellence lab at the university. “When hackers break into certain devices, they want to share that with everyone so they come up with a set of instructions published on a website. It goes viral and it’s a huge revenue loss for the company.

“Up until a decade ago, this is mainly what hardware security was about – chips with secret assets for people to extract or manipulate this secret information.”