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The Role of Cost in the Integration of Security Features in Integrated Circuits for Smart Cards

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Document pages: 28 pages

Abstract: This essay investigates the role of cost in the development and production ofsecure integrated circuits. Initially, I make a small introduction on hardwareattacks on smart cards and some of the reasons behind them. Subsequently, Iintroduce the production phases of chips that are integrated to smart cards andtry to identify the costs affecting each one of them. I proceed to identify howadding security features on such integrated circuits may affect the costs oftheir development and production. I then make a more thorough investigation onthe costs of developing a hardware attack for such chips and try to estimatethe potential damages and losses of such an attack. I also go on to examinepotential ways of reducing the cost of production for secure chips, whileidentifying the difficulties in adopting them.This essay ends with the conclusion that adding security features to chipsmeant to be used for secure applications is well worth it, because the costs ofdeveloping attacks are of comparable amounts to the costs of developing andproducing a chip and the potential damages and losses caused by such attackscan be way higher than these costs. Therefore, although the production anddevelopment of integrated circuits come at a certain cost and securityintroduces further additional costs, security is inherently unavoidable in suchchips. Finally, I additionally identify that security is an evolving conceptand does not aim to make a chip totally impenetrable, as this may beimpossible, but to lower the potential risks, including that of beingcompromised, to acceptable levels. Thus, a balance needs be found between thelevel of security and the levels of cost and risk.

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