Atmel Corporation - Encrypted security solutions

The scale of the counterfeiting problem to the pharmaceutical industry means that packagers require ultra-secure solutions if they are to protect products throughout the distribution chain. Radio frequency identification, combined with state-of-the-art encryption, enables product safety.

Counterfeiting of consumer products is a common problem around the world. The US FDA estimates that counterfeit drugs comprise roughly 10% of the global pharmaceutical market.

A variety of technologies, primarily barcode and Electronic Product Code™ (EPC) tag solutions, are being offered to the pharmaceutical industry as a solution to the counterfeiting problem. However, authentic product barcodes can be duplicated easily, while EPC tags are simply barcodes stored in radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, and are also easy to duplicate.

Atmel Corporation's CryptoRF® family of products provides manufacturers with an ideal solution to the problem of counterfeiting. Safety caps containing Atmel's cryptographic RFID technology securely store the history of the product, and cannot be duplicated.

This guarantees product integrity through the distribution channel, while also providing for logistics management and tracking.

Secure RFID tags

Atmel's CryptoRF tags contain contain 1 to 64kbits of EEPROM memory, split into 4 to 16 zones, each protected by a secret security key. Only authorised users are able to read or write these secure memory segments, which guarantees the integrity of the data.

Data communication between the RFID tag and data reader is encrypted and wireless. CryptoRF offers four different levels of security, from open memory to full encryption, each with authorial read-and-write capabilities. This technology makes it possible to store an electronic pedigree securely on the product codes.

These RFID devices contain a random number generator and a proprietary algorithm that generates new keys for each authentication and encryption activation.

Read-and-write access requirements for each user zone are programmed by the customer during personalisation. The device's secret keys for mutual authentication and encryption are defined using a customer-selected algorithm. Only a computer that knows the 'secret key' can provide the required authentication.

The EPC of a pharmaceutical product can be stored in an unencrypted memory segment of CryptoRF devices for inventory management purposes. CryptoRF-based anti-counterfeiting systems can be designed to access EPC back-end networks, allowing a single RFID tag to be used for both product authentication and logistics management.

Implementation in packaging

Atmel is working with top packaging manufacturers to securely implement CryptoRF on their products, allowing item-level drugs to be protected from counterfeiting and tampering. The CryptoRF product family provides a range of benefits:

  • Secure track and trace
  • Encrypted pedigree on product
  • Logistics management
  • Recall facilitation
  • Distribution control
  • Tamper-proof
  • Product safety
  • Anti-counterfeiting
  • Compliance with industry standards

With a range of memory sizes available, Atmel describes CryptoRF as the world's largest family of secure radio frequency memories.

Industry leader

Atmel Corporation, founded in 1984, is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of advanced semiconductors, including advanced logic, nonvolatile memory, mixed signal and RF integrated circuits.

Atmel is one of the few companies capable of integrating dense nonvolatile memory, logic and analogue functions on a single chip. Atmel chips are manufactured using the most advanced wafer processes, including BiCMOS, CMOS and silicon germanium technologies.

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