Protect intellectual property: Encrypt firmware, control code

Original equipment manufacturers and machine builders can be more secure with encryption, user authentication features, says Opto 22.

By Control Engineering Staff May 9, 2008

Temecula, CA – Firmware and control software from original equipment manufacturers and machine builders will be more secure as a result of encryption in upgraded automation software from

Opto 22

, a developer and manufacturer of hardware and software for industrial automation, remote monitoring, and data acquisition projects.

This Opto 22 software allows encryption of firmware and control programs.

Opto 22 released the “Secure Strategy Distribution System, as part of PAC Project version 8.2, the company’s flagship automation software suite that includes control programming, HMI development, OPC connectivity, and enterprise database integration components. The software gives OEMs and machine builders the ability to encrypt firmware and control programs so they can only be uploaded or downloaded to a controller via use of a secure encryption key,” the company says.
The new Secure Strategy Distribution System features included in PAC Project 8.2 were designed to protect OEMs’ intellectual property. Embedded controllers can be secure, preventing unauthorized users from loading and running code or accessing or downloading preloaded control programs without use of a shared encryption key. For example, Opto 22 says, should control programs or firmware running on machines in the field need updating, the OEM can create a controller download file, encrypt it, and then distribute it to end-user customers. Because these field controllers are secured, they will only accept files that have a digital signature that matches that of their OEM’s private key, the company says, which guarantees that the Opto 22 firmware or control program update is authentic and has not been modified.
The competitive landscape for OEMs today dictates that they need more sophisticated ways to protect themselves from reverse-engineering, piracy, sabotage, and other infringements on their intellectual property,” says Nick Riley, senior project engineer at Opto 22. “The Secure Strategy Distribution System features in our latest version of PAC Project give us as a manufacturer the opportunity to help alleviate some of our valued OEM customer concerns in this area, particularly as they ship their machines abroad.”
Opto 22 PAC Project components include:
• PAC Control-intuitive flowchart and scripting control programming software for developing control programs that run on Snap PAC controllers, and ideal for sequential control, batch and process control, motion control, complex math, conditional branching, string handling, subroutines, PID loop control, and more.
• PAC Display-a Microsoft Windows-based human-machine interface (HMI) development application used to create graphical interfaces that mimic a process. Support for alarm management, recipe handling, operator logging, real-time and historical trending, multimedia, and unlimited tags puts PAC Display on par with competing HMI development applications costing thousands of dollars more per seat.
• PAC Manager-a configuration and maintenance tool used to inspect and view control programs variables and I/O data in real time.
• OptoOPCServer (included with PAC Project Professional or available separately)– an OLE for Process Control (OPC) 2.0-compliant server used to consolidate and publish Snap PAC System data to OPC-aware clients, including third-party HMIs such as Wonderware’s InTouch, Intellution’s iFix, and Iconic’s Genesis.
• OptoDataLink (included with PAC Project Professional or available separately)-connectivity software used to enable bidirectional data transfer between the Snap PAC System and enterprise databases-such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and MySQL-without brokering the data through an HMI.
Also read the following:

I/O help: software adds functions to input / output devices

– Edited by  Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk
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