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Black Box: A Chip That Makes Hacking Impossible

In an era of Machine Learning (ML)-enabled hacking, in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is trained to "learn" and model inputs and outputs, a new chip-based technology termed as a "black box" can thwart hackers' plans, say researchers.

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cyber attacks
Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals. Pixabay

In an era of Machine Learning (ML)-enabled hacking, in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is trained to “learn” and model inputs and outputs, a new chip-based technology termed as a “black box” can thwart hackers’ plans, say researchers.

According to Computer Science Professor Dmitri Strukov from the University of California-Santa Barbara, he and his team were looking to put an extra layer of security on devices.

The result is a chip that deploys “ionic memristor” technology.

Key to this technology is the memristor, or memory resistor — an electrical resistance switch that can “remember” its state of resistance based on its history of applied voltage and current.

With ML, an attacker doesn't even need to know what exactly is occurring as the computer is trained on a series of inputs and outputs of a system
Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals. pixabay

A circuit made of memristors results in a “black box” of sorts, as Strukov called it, with outputs extremely difficult to predict based on the inputs.

“You can think of it as a black box. Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals,” said Strukov in a paper which appeared in the journal Nature Electronics.

With ML, an attacker doesn’t even need to know what exactly is occurring as the computer is trained on a series of inputs and outputs of a system.

Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals
Representational image. Pixabay

“For instance, if you have 2 million outputs and the attacker sees 10,000 or 20,000 of these outputs, he can, based on that, train a model that can copy the system afterwards,” said Hussein Nili, the paper’s lead author.

The “memristive black box” can circumvent this method of attack because it makes the relationship between inputs and outputs look random enough to the outside world even as the circuits’ internal mechanisms are repeatable enough to be reliable.

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“If we scale it a little bit further, it’s going to be hardware which could be, in many metrics, the state-of-the-art,” Strukov noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Smart Bulbs Can Steal Personal Information Through Hacking

Now researchers have conducted a review of the security holes that exist in popular smart-light brands

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Hacking
The owner might not know about the hack because the Hacking commands are communicated within the owner's home Wi-Fi network, without using the internet. Pixabay

Smart bulbs are expected to be a popular purchase. But could lighting your home open up your personal information to hackers? Now a new study from an Indian-origin researcher shows that the hacker’s next prime target could be that smart bulb for Hacking your Personal Information.

Some smart bulbs connect to a home network without needing a smart home hub, centralised hardware or software device where another internet of things (IoT) products communicate with each other.

Smart home hubs, which connect either locally or to the cloud, are useful for IoT devices that use the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols or Bluetooth, rather than Wi-Fi.

“Your smart bulb could come equipped with infrared capabilities, and most users don’t know that the invisible wave spectrum can be controlled. You can misuse those lights,” said study lead author Murtuza Jadliwala, Professor from the University of Texas at San Antonio in the US.

“Any data can be stolen: texts or images. Anything that is stored in a computer,” Jadliwala added.

Earlier this year Amazon’s Echo made global headlines when it was reported that consumers’ conversations were recorded and heard by thousands of employees.

Now researchers have conducted a review of the security holes that exist in popular smart-light brands.

According to the analysis, the next prime target could be the smart bulb that shoppers buy.

If these same bulbs are also infrared-enabled, hackers can send commands via the infrared invisible light emanated from the bulbs to either steal data or spoof other connected IoT devices on the home network, the study said.

The owner might not know about the hack because the hacking commands are communicated within the owner’s home Wi-Fi network, without using the internet.

Hacking
Smart bulbs are expected to be a popular purchase. But could lighting your home open up your personal information to hackers? Now a new study from an Indian-origin researcher shows that the hacker’s next prime target could be that smart bulb for Hacking Personal Information. Pixabay

Smart bulbs have moved beyond novelty to a lucrative mature market. Last year consumers spent close to $8 billion, and that amount is expected to more than triple to $28 billion in less than a decade.

“These bulbs are now poised to become a much more attractive target for exploitation even though they have very simple chips,” Jadliwala said.

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Jadliwala recommends that consumers opt for bulbs that come with a smart home hub rather than those that connect directly to other devices. (IANS)