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USB security dongle handles complicated access systems

Posted: 24 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB? security dongle? access control?

Using a unique, hard-coded identification number, the USB-Key security device from Future Technology Devices International can interface to any USB host or hub to provide application software access control (security dongle) or as part of a more sophisticated key-based physical access control. During manufacture, the USB-Key has a unique FTDIChip-ID number burnt into it. This number is only readable over the USB interface, making it ideal for PC or embedded security developments. The USB-Key, compatible with USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 specifications, derives its power from the USB interface and does not require any external supply or battery.

In addition to providing a unique identification number, a user writeable EEPROM area is available to allow further encryption techniques. Examples include reading the FTDIChip-ID, further encrypting it and writing it back to the EEPROM. By using this approach, industry standard encryption techniques such as DES, AES, or Blowfish could be implemented.

Also available is an ActiveX control, SafeGuard-IT, which can utilize the FTDI-ChipID feature of the USB-Key to provide asymmetric public and private key encryption. Encrypted information based on the FTDIChip-ID, the private key and an optional password can be programmed back into the USB-Key's integrated EEPROM. According to the company, this provides an easy to deploy method of software protection with a high level of security. With this approach, SafeGuard-IT protected software packages need only be compiled once and can then be distributed with just two additional files to decrypt the information, the public key and the SafeGuard-IT DLL.

FTDIChip-ID drivers, supporting all popular operating systems, together with further programming documentation and code examples are available for free download at

The SafeGuard-IT ActiveX control and the SafeGuard-IT DLL file can be downloaded free of charge at

The FTDI USB-Key is available now priced $8.99 for 1,000 piece orders.

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