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Hardware Hacking

Cryptography To Frustrate Printer-Ink Piracy 305

Zack Melich writes with news of a new front about to open in the war printer manufacturers wage with cartridge counterfeiters, refillers, and hardware hackers. A San Francisco company, Cryptography Research Inc., is designing a crypto chip to marry cartridges to printers. There's no word so far that any printer manufacturer has committed to using it. Quoting: "The company's chips use cryptography designed to make it harder for printers to use off-brand and counterfeit cartridges. CRI plans to create a secure chip that will allow only certain ink cartridges to communicate with certain printers. CRI also said that the chip will be designed that so large portions of it will have no decipherable structure, a feature that would thwart someone attempting to reverse-engineer the chip by examining it under a microscope to determine how it works. 'You can see 95 percent of the [chip's] grid and you still don't know how it works,' said Kit Rodgers, CRI's vice president of business development. Its chip generates a separate, random code for each ink cartridge, thus requiring a would-be hacker to break every successive cartridge's code to make use of the cartridge."

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