Thursday , August 16 2018
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Uncrackable computer chips stop malicious bugs attacking your computer

Cyberattacks target not just our phones and laptops, but hospitals, schools and power stations. A new security solution redesigns chips from the inside out

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EVEN if you’re not a hacker or a coder, chances are you will have heard names like Stuxnet, NotPetya or WannaCry. After all, these malicious programs have made big waves in the past few years. First it was Iran’s nuclear centrifuges that were the target, then Ukraine’s banks, then last year, hospitals in the UK. These cyberattacks keep coming.

The standard response is to release software patches, the updates that pop up on our computers and smartphones. They are designed to seal up the holes that hackers exploit to smuggle their malicious code through. The trouble is, there are more than 100,000 holes out there – and that’s just the ones we know about. Plenty more are surely waiting to be found. “To successfully defend, you must find all weaknesses and plug them,” says Linton Salmon, who runs a computer security programme at the US Department of Defense. “To successfully attack, you only need to find one.”

It’s a losing battle, and one we can no longer afford to fight. As we build the internet of things, putting simple processors into garage doors, fridges, light bulbs and windscreen wipers, that truth is only going to become plainer. If we are going to put computers in everything, it is time we souped up their defences.

That is what Salmon and a few others have been quietly working on. We can protect ourselves from cyberattacks, they say, not with ever more patches, but with changes to computers’ underlying electronics. It means overhauling the way we build microprocessors, but the world’s biggest chip-makers are already getting in on …

–Credit: New Scientist – Home

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