Strong and reliable authentication is key in our digital society. The existence of Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs), the technology that implements the electronic fingerprint of devices, has been demonstrated by the PUFFIN FET Open project in standard devices. The applications for mobile phones are now implemented by its SME partner Intrinsic-ID.
Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) technology
Our brains are not very good at inventing and remembering strong passwords, which are therefore not an adequate authentication solution for our digital society. Unlike human fingerprints, PUFs are very reliable and secure, making them well suited as a strong second factor in user authentication. With PUFs, devices can be uniquely authenticated, without human intervention.
PUFFIN FET project
The Intrinsic-ID SME had already developed a robust PUF technology (called Hardware Intrinsic Security, HIS) for specialized devices. The objective of the FET high-tech SME project PUFFIN, where Intrinsic-ID was the SME partner, was to further demonstrate the existence of PUFs in standard PCs, laptops, mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices. The results demonstrated, theoretically and practically, that these PUFs are very suitable as a root of trust for mobile devices. On top of that, they can be used for the generation and management of strong keys and passwords. Since the technology is very low cost to implement, it has the potential to replace current technologies (such as Trusted Platform Modules, TPMs) in several use cases.
Intrinsic-ID enters the mobile market
As a direct follow-up on the results from the PUFFIN project, Intrinsic-ID achieved two major milestones at the end of 2014:
- in November, Intrinsic-ID was awarded the FP7-supported IPACSO award for best “Privacy or Cyber Security Innovator” for its ground-breaking work providing device-unique security solutions on mobile devices.
- in December, Intrinsic-ID has been selected for a procurement from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the Dutch national government for its phone as a security token project called BYOS (“Bring Your Own Security”).
Even more significantly, Intrinsic-ID established a partnership with a leading international manufacturer of smartphones. Thanks to this partnership, HIS security technology will soon be embedded in several popular mobile phone models and increase the security of millions of end users.
<em>Imagine an authentication mechanism based on the unique physical characteristics of a device that you naturally carry with you, like your mobile phone. It would be like a device fingerprint, combining convenience with strong authentication.</em><br />
Pim Tuyls, CEO of Intrinsic-ID</p>