Security manager ensures smart grid infrastructure security

July 24, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. has introduced the MAX36025, a tamper-reactive cryptographic-node controller with two hardware Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) engines for easy and more secure encryption.

Utilities worldwide are rolling out smart grids to help manage energy use more effectively. By providing communication at multiple points in the grid, utilities can measure instantaneous electricity consumption, quickly isolate faults, control demand, and inform their customers about pricing and consumption. The constant back-and-forth flow of communication also opens up this critical infrastructure to a cyber attack. The MAX36025 is a security manager that can be placed at the access point/data concentrator in a smart grid network to add security to these crucial points of data aggregation.

The MAX36025’s two hardware AES engines move encryption into hardware, drastically reduce design time, and raise the levels of security. System designers are finally freed from writing encryption code that takes a long time to write, debug, and implement. Encryption software can also have security vulnerabilities in the form of undetected bugs which can be attacked with a virus. The MAX36025’s two AES engines can be used on independent channels to protect different networks or used simultaneously on the same channel for double encryption.

MAX36025’s includes physical layers of security such as an on-chip secure key storage (in the nonimprinting memory).     On-chip nonimprinting memory features high-speed tamper-reactive erase.

A temperature sensor with a proprietary rate-of-change detector helps to sense extreme changes in temperature that signal a physical attack.

An 81-ball CSBGA package exposes no leads to which an attacker can attach.

The MAX36025 operates across the -55 to +95 °C temperature range.

The secure nature of the MAX36025 requires a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) before release of data sheet or other product information.

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