July 27, 2017
IBM has filed a patent that reveals a new method of securing cryptographic keys and makes them tamper proof. According to the patent, Big Blue utilizes printed circuit boards (PCB) to protect cryptographic keys and codes. IBM announced that the patent, which was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), uses PCB as an inspiration for a new method to protect cryptographic keys, required for encrypted communication. According to IBM, the new method is "designed to be highly tamper-resistant.
“An arrangement for the protection of cryptographic keys and codes from being compromised by external tampering, wherein the arrangement is utilized within a multilayered securing structure. More particularly, there is provided a multilayered securing structure for the protection of cryptographic keys and codes, which may be subject to potential tampering when employed in computers and/or telecommunication systems,” read the patent. “A method is provided for producing such multilayered securing structures within a modular substrate with the intent to protect cryptographic keys and codes which are employed in computers and/or telecommunication systems from the dangers of potential tampering or unauthorized access.”
IBM also claimed that the patented method could help protect keys and codes that encrypt data in the cloud or in enterprise storage systems. If traditional mehods are considered, modules are usually encased in plastic or epoxy like resin to prevent tampering, but over time this may result in the warping of the circuit board. The new design eliminates the need for a case in the first place.
"At IBM, there are teams engaged in inventing and innovation on data protection and security which are fundamental cornerstones of our global digital future," said Stefano Oggioni, Engineering Manager of IBM Systems and co-inventor on the patent. "We had this in mind when creating this innovation."