Analog Tests, Instead Of Crypto (and Snowden/Brazil)

A Norweigian company is making thin-film printed circuit labels that are designed to be unforgeable… like holograms, except much more secure. The concept is simple. Using a hand-held reader, you read and write to the “printed” memory and monitor the parameters of the analogue signal.

Tiny unit-to-unit variations, interacting with the incredible complexity of even a small amount of memory, mean that each label is inherently unique… and produces a correspondingly unique signal.

Note there’s no need for onboard cryptography or challenge-response authentication.

Update on the life of Edward Sandiego, I mean, Snowden: He’s living under guard in Russia, traveling occaisionally, and not being recognized by the locals, according to his (FSB-connected) lawyer — who also claims there are new leaks coming despite Putin’s no-new-leaks ultimatum. (Maybe Vlad the Putinator* softened a bit after seeing the boost Russia’s gotten.) The guards are private and Snowden pays their salary… though their equivalency to “hired translators” in the USSR and/or siloviki membership status is not discussed.


Brazil: The Brazilians have taken Snowdenleaks to heart. Obama is losing his only state dinner of the year, after former guerilla fighter turned president Rousseff has canceled her US trip over the spying:

The land of hedonism, soccer, and boobies* is also sending a delegation to question Snowden on what else the ‘murcans might be up to in their country:


“K investment house Invesco has acquired 13 per cent of Norway’s ThinFilm, just as the company prepares to launch its first printed product, which it tells us will cost almost two cents.

The investment gives Invesco 56 million shares in ThinFilm, which amounts to 13.3 per cent of the company, but this should provide the Norwegian firm with funds for the launch of the company’s first real product: a label which can’t be forged. The firm is gearing up to produce hundreds of thousands of them later this year and ramp up production into the millions come 2014.[…]

Holograms are surprisingly easy to copy, despite constant innovation from the industry to frustrate counterfeiters. Once an enterprise has copied the packaging, appearance and feel of the original, the hologram is just another step along the way. Once one is replicating a gas cylinder or package of malarial pills then sticking a fake hologram on the side is a small thing.

ThinFilm’s solution isn’t as elegant as a hologram: one needs a special reader which pushes pins against the exposed contacts on the label. The reader actually reads and writes to the printed memory, as well as monitoring the analogue signal coming back and the speed of responses. It’s a physical test, not a cryptographic challenge, but should be impossible to forge even if it can’t be checked with the naked eye.”

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