June 9, 2009
-- Algotronix Ltd., Edinburgh, UK has announced the availability of a reference design that provides Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) over USB. AES cryptography is adopted by the US government and is widely used by military and commercial users.
The company provides an interface to Altera's NIOS II soft processor that works with their G3 core to provide AES encryption and decryption of files passed over a USB 2 interface. The product works on Altera's Cyclone II-based DE2 evaluation board and can form the basis of a low-cost self-contained crypto module housed in a USB stick similar to those used for memories. For Xilinx users, a related reference design running on a Xilinx Spartan -3 evaluation board will combine the MicroBlaze processor with an Ethernet connection to a host PC.
The reference design fits into low-cost FPGA families and provides the processor controller to drive an external USB chip. In addition, test software is included to load onto the target PC where the files are stored. This GUI provides the facility to verify the upload and download of files and compare the hardware results with a reference software implementation of AES.
An important advantage of using external hardware for encryption is that the encryption key need never be stored on the host PC. It is therefore not vulnerable to malicious code such as viruses or keystroke loggers which can capture cryptographic keys entered through the PC keyboard.
The reference design can be used by customers as the basis of secure USB “dongles” for portable applications and in the future may be extended to address secure hard disks connected via SATA or PCI Express.
As awareness grows of the vulnerability of data held on laptops, netbooks, MIDs and smart phones, users are seeking stronger encryption than ever before. “A recent report by Communications News
stated that 12,000 laptops are lost every week at US airports alone,” said Tom Kean, Managing Director of Algotronix. “Once the data is encrypted it cannot be read without the correct key, which may be up to 256 bits long.”
The reference design is available for purchase either bundled with the AES G3 encrypt/decrypt core or separately by existing Algotronix customers. The AES core is NIST certified and provides a wide range of user options.
For more information: http://www.algotronix-store.com About Algotronix
Algotronix is based in the UK and was established in 1998. It is the winner of the prestigious IET Electronics Award 2008 and the NMI Emerging Technology Award 2008. It has a proprietary range of advanced crypto IP products that have been designed into military, gaming and other secure applications around the world.