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Technology Innovation Institute Launch Hardware Security Research Labs

The Technology Innovation Institute
New facility to test cryptographic hardware implementations, cryptographic devices

Published Jun 20, 2023 10:06 AM by The Maritime Executive

[By: The Technology Innovation Institute]

The Technology Innovation Institute (TII), a leading global scientific research institute and the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), today announced that its new cutting-edge hardware security research laboratories, dedicated to testing of hardware cryptographic implementations and capable of analysing the security of embedded systems (hardware and software), is now live.

A first for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the lab is well-equipped, and it provides cutting edge capabilities related toside-channel analysis, fault-injection-based attacks, hardware pen (penetration) testing, and fuzzing, among other advanced techniques.

Reverse engineering capabilities of the labs also enable them to utilize machine learning algorithms to detect sophisticated malware and ransomware. Its cross-domain, multi-disciplinary team comprises theoretical and applied cryptographers, security specialists, reverse engineering experts, electronics engineers, as well as researchers with skills in side-channel analysis and fault-based injection attacks.

The hardware laboratories, a division of TII’s Cryptography Research Center (CRC), hope to become a one-stop solution for design security verification and evaluation for multiple use cases from national safety and automotive, to IoT-based lightweight applications (smart homes, smart meters). In addition, the labs are also set to test and fortify industrial (smart grids), healthcare (medical devices security) applications, as well as post-quantum cryptographic resistant devices and implementations. Key projects that could benefit from such verification include specialized embedded systems, smartcards, PCBs, ASIC chips, FPGA boards, COTS microcontrollers, among other devices.

The unique labs are fitted out with advanced equipment, such as high-end measurement instruments, oscilloscopes, signal generators and logic analyzers, lasers, dedicated side-channel and fault-injection test benches, current and EM probes, as well as cables, amplifiers, a climate chamber, and state-of-the-art experiment tables. Additionally, the labs host dedicated storage servers in a tight air-gapped environment thus assuring the reliability of the evaluations and protecting the confidentiality and integrity of all data inside. One of the labs’ primary objectives is to boost the UAE’s tech sovereignty in the embedded cryptography space, through supporting the complete end-to-end lifecycle, from design, implementation, verification, and security evaluation. The labs also offer documentation and training support. 

Dr. Ray O. Johnson, CEO of TII and ASPIRE, said: “Security ranks among the key enabling technologies of our time, and we are incredibly pleased to contribute to their advancement in this region through TII’s high-tech hardware security lab. Cyber-security is a particularly challenging domain in the digital-first world we live in where quantum computing is rapidly becoming a reality, and malicious actors are always trying to break into complex security protocols. As a tech enabler, TII is committed to accelerating breakthroughs that keep us two steps ahead and help preserve our security.”

For her part, Dr. Najwa Aaraj, Chief Researcher, CRC, said: “Our hardware security lab brings together a talented and skilled team of experts and innovative methods to strengthen the design and implementation of customer products, including hardware cryptographic implementations and embedded systems, while ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of underlying data. With this new facility, we continue to build on emerging academic and industry research and apply these techniques to enhance our service quality and offerings.”

The new hardware security lab is part of TII’s wider vision to help shape solutions to ongoing threats and potential issues faced by digital societies today and in the future.

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