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KCS Develops Crypto Chip to Ensure Security

#Power of Businesses l 2019-06-24

Business Watch

© KCS

Today, we’ll introduce you to Korea Computer Systems, abbreviated as KCS, a promising firm that demonstrated its superior technology at the recent International Fire and Security Exhibition and Conference(IFSEC) in London. Let’s hear from managing director Kim Han-jik. 


During this year’s IFSEC that was held in London from June 18th to 20th, KCS showcased an IP camera and a crypto media converter with built-in crypto chips called KEV7[kevsevn]. We conducted a demonstration test to show foreign enterprises how to ensure security against the hacking of IP cameras and also helped them understand our technology of encrypting images of an IP camera using the innovative chips. 


It took us three long years to develop the encryption chip and another year to develop the world’s first IP camera security solution to encrypt images in real-time by applying the chips. 


Many companies have released similar solutions using software chips. But software chips might lower the frame rate, which refers to the speed at which images are shown, and also cause a problem known as “frame dropping.” To address the drawbacks, our solution uses hardware cryptography chips.  


KCS attracted a lot of attention from security specialists at the recent exhibition in London, even though it was the first time the Korean company took part in IFSEC, one of the three biggest security events in the world. The focus of attention was an IP camera embedded with crypto chips, which allow the camera to encrypt images in real time without losing it and stores them. Mr. Kim explains this encryption chip, KEV7, in more detail. 


KEV7 is an ASIC[eisik], MCU chip. ASIC refers to an application-specific integrated circuit—a circuit customized for particular use. MCU stands for microcontroller unit. An MCU contains a central processing unit and memory all embedded in a single chip. For various IoT applications, chips should be extremely small and consume less electricity. That’s why we developed this tiny yet highly integrated chip. 

This chip has a powerful crypto engine and a true random number generator, a device that generates random numbers from a physical process. It also uses a technology called “Physical Unclonable Function” designed to prevent data cloning. The hardware chip supports various interfaces as well. 


The global image security equipment market is expected to grow to 63 billion US dollars in 2021. Widespread hacking of IP cameras increases the risk of the leakage of personal information and even poses a threat to national security. In the search for reliable security measures capable of blocking cyber attacks effectively, countries are turning their eyes to crypto chips. 


Against this backdrop, KCS was able to develop a crypto chip that would meet growing demand for stronger security. By going a step further, the company succeeded in applying the crypto chip to IP cameras. 


Some overseas manufacturers have also developed crypto chips, but they typically charge extra fees if their chips are connected with other products. For KCS, their crypto chips are already implanted in the products—a major breakthrough that had never been tried before. Thanks to its solid technology, the company was able to break new ground in the industry. 


© KCS

KCS has a long history of 44 years. It has accumulated technological expertise in security solutions, system integration and nonstop system software. It is a small firm, but it has a high credit rating of A0. One of our most outstanding achievements is, of course, the real-time image encryption solution using the KEV7 chip. 


KCS is a spin-off from Korea Computer Holdings that was established in 1974. Some describe Korea Computer Holdings as an IT training school, in recognition of its contribution to promoting Korea’s financial IT. It was the first Korean firm to succeed in the local production of payment terminals, opening an era of digital payments. 

KCS is also known for its nonstop server, which is appropriate for a credit card approval system that does not break down even for a single second. The company’s nonstop solution claims an over 70 percent share in the domestic credit card approval system market. 


Based on its technological advancements, the company has engaged in encryption projects. For example, it carried out joint research on a power distribution automation system with Korea Electric Power Corporation, widely known as KEPCO, since 2012. KCS’ job is to research security modules for electricity monitoring and control. 


We set our eyes on meters reading electricity, gas or water usage. KEPCO is considering distributing electric meters equipped with security chips to 22 million households. For electricity metering, security will be applied to modems from this year, and to meters from next year. We’re preparing to test the project. 


In addition to utility metering, security is becoming increasingly important for electric vehicles, which will come into wide use in the coming years. In line with the expansion of electric cars, the market for chargers is also growing. Chargers for electric vehicles require a high level of security, and we’re working with KEPCO on the development of chargers equipped with crypto chips. We plan on starting a pilot project as early as the second half of this year.


The crypto chip developed by KCS is only 6 millimeters in size, but the tiny chip guarantees great security performance and scalability. Starting with the successful application of the chip to IP cameras last year, the company has carried out its encrypted device business in earnest. Now, it is working to incorporate crypto chips into self-driving vehicles and smart factories.


In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, facilities at smart factories and household appliances at smart homes will all be connected to the Internet. Hyper-connectivity enabled by the Internet of Things or IoT will offer convenience, but it also raises a security issue. 


Connected and autonomous cars are also exposed to security risks. Those vehicles will collect and use information through sensors and other in-vehicle smart devices to drive on their own. But what if the cars fall victim to hacking? If hackers control the cars, drivers will be left helpless and in great danger. We’re working on crypto chip-embedded security solutions that will prevent any such danger. 


In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, telecommunication networks are connected by various devices, from smartphones and ambulances carrying emergency patients to self-driving vehicles and remote medical equipment. In other words, technology convergence blurs the traditional boundaries between industries. In this super-connected society, cyber attack may even threaten people’s lives. 


By envisioning a huge change in the way people live, KCS is developing a variety of crypto chip-based solution aimed at ensuring and enhancing IT security.

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