PFP Cybersecurity Takes 'Air Gap' Approach to Security

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2015-01-23 Print this article Print

VIDEO: Power Fingerprinting's founder details innovative technology that uses side-channel analysis to detect attacks.

In the physical world, fingerprints have long been a critical tool in helping investigators identify the bad guys. It's an idea that is now coming to the IT security world with the launch of Power Fingerprinting Inc. (PFP).

"We use side-channel detection, we look at radiation and current consumption on a chip, and we can tell if something is different," Steven Chen, founder and executive chairman of PFP Cybersecurity, told eWEEK. "We detect anomalies."

The PFP Cybersecurity platform is what is known as an "air gap" technology, meaning it is isolated from the normal operation of a system. Chen said that since PFP's solution is an air gap technology, a potential hacker would not know that the protection is in place.

Thurston Brooks, vice president of product marketing at PFP, explained that the name Power Fingerprinting has a particular meaning as well.

"It's the idea that we're taking power signals off the chips and we're creating the equivalent of a fingerprint," Brooks said.

The fingerprint is a unique identifier for an individual, and the same idea works for a particular system or hardware chip, he said. The PFP technology will identify the fingerprint of what the system looks like normally. When the fingerprint doesn't match, it can be an indicator that there is something wrong.

Chen explained that whenever a command is executed on a chip, the chip will radiate information either on the power line or via RF. PFP picks up on those signals by way of probes that can be placed on top of a chip.

"We detect both active and dormant attacks," Chen said. "So if something in memory is different, we can detect it."

Watch the full video with PFP Cybersecurity below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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