By Dahan O. Author, Levenglick D. July 30, 2007 -- dspdesignline.com
System and software companies spend billions of dollars developing confidential software IP to give their solution a unique edge. Unfortunately, a deployed system leaves this IP out in the open, accessible to any hacker and ripe for the malicious picking. Code can be stolen or the entire system cloned, either by eavesdropping on communication lines used to download IP to the site, or by going to a deployment site and downloading code directly from a system's storage. This can, and has in the past, lead to lawsuits and loss of income.
There are two main methods for protecting against IP theft. One can safeguard the code by physically locking the storage or one can virtually lock the code by encryption. The encryption solution is preferable, as encryption locks are harder to pick than physical ones. In order to allow encrypted code to run a standard machine, yet keep the code encrypted when it is vulnerable to attack (i.e., in form accessible to a hacker), the hardware has to allow the decryption of code before its execution as well as protect the cleartext code in storage. This problem has resulted in hardware solutions in various products for various markets. In the DSP market, the MSC8144EC, through an innovative combination of hardware and embedded software, is the first high end DSP to provide a software security solution. This article describes this hardware and software support for software security, and maps the security threats that this solution addresses.
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