Analog resistive switches, hardware-based cryptography – the simple, analog data processing, the fast, high potential data encryption

The targeted use of advanced information and communication technologies is often the crucial key for economic success. During the complex analog and digital data processing also an increasing amount of sensitive data is digitally transmitted and stored in cloud storage and mobile devices. Business and private users are therefore, to an increasing extent, subject to digital crime in the form of malware, spying, data theft, data abuse and sabotage. To prevent this, the data should be encrypted, in the best case the whole disk (Full Disk Encryption – FDE).

Analog and digital data processing are key tasks in information and communication technologies. For example, industrial and process automation, involves the conversion, separation, monitoring and visualization of digital and analogue signal values. Today, these tasks are often solved with analog technology using amplifiers, filters, rectifiers and mixers with less effort than with digital technology using logic gates, microprocessors, and data storage. The non-volatile, analogue resistance switches of the BFO platform open up the possibility to exploit both analog and digital signal processing using analogue data memories and reconfigurable logic gates.

Today, there is already a wide range of software solutions for FDE on the market. In addition, the hardware-based encryption through so-called self-encrypting hard drives (Self Encrypting Drives – SEDs) has widely spread over the last five years. The hardware crypto controller encrypts the data or exchanges the signals without using additional software directly on the disk in real time. In contrast to the time-consuming and computational complex software-based encryption, this technology offers distinct advantages: no extra processing power is required for reading and writing, therefore less energy is consumed, and the encryption is already effective at boot. In addition, with SEDs, longer, true random keys are possible, making the stored data safe even with physical loss of the storage medium.

In the future, an exponentially growing amount of data needs to be processed securely and software-based methods will no longer be effcient. Companies in Germany use up to 85% full encryption solutions, predominantly using software-based FDE; only about 20% use SEDs, as shown in a study from 2014. The latter have, already today, a higher performance through hardware-based encryption. BFO’s non-volatile switching characteristics offer the possibility to use the BFO platform for hardware-based cryptography. In contrast to bi-stable switchable resistor elements the BFO platform employs additional load resistors. For encrypting a bit-value a harmonic electric signal is applied to a random load resistor and the resistance element. Due to the non-linear properties of the resistance element a harmonic of the electrical signal is induced. The encryption consists of assigning each bit-value to the intensity of the corresponding harmonic. With the CMOS-integrated BFO platform an alternative, energy-efficient hardware-based encryption is provided, based on the non-volatile switching properties of the BFO platform.


(Creator: Gregor Črešnar, The Noun Project. License: CC-BY-3.0 US)