Philips To Protect MRAM From Hackers
Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) was developed by Honeywell and Motorola as a successor to flash memory. Now Philips has plans to make it hacker-proof.
MRAM stores data by reading and writing data magnetically to a stack of thin film layers. If, however, a hacker opens the chip, they can easily read sensitive data from the layers directly. This could be a problem if an MRAM chip is used for high-security applications, like storing passwords or cryptographic keys.
The thin-film magnets in Philips' tamper-proof chip will be wrapped in a soft metal sheet and then topped with another thin-film magnet.
While the wrapper remains intact the soft metal acts as a "keeper", gathering flux from the permanent magnet into a closed loop and keeping it away from the MRAM stack. But if someone attempts to break through the metal wrap to access the MRAM layers, the keeper becomes ineffective. Flux then breaks out and immediately erases the magnetic data stored in the MRAM chip.
The beauty of the system is that it is passive. So, disconnecting power to the chip does not keep the permanent magnet from doing its job.
Here's the full self-destructing memory patent application.
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