Why Keyssa Built a Better Connector: Part 4 – Security

Steve Venuti
VP Marketing, Keyssa

There is nothing inherently secure about metal or mechanical connectors. In fact, they are notoriously unsecure: highly visible on the face of a compute product, more than likely standardized in their size and configuration, ripe for probing and extracting data.

Much has been made about “juice hacking” of USB ports at public charge stations. Although it remains unclear how prevalent this is, the fundamental point is clear – the external mechanical port is an obvious opening to the internal workings of your device. The ease and convenience of a mechanical connector, where metal touches metal to form a connection, is also a security nightmare…an open door to your data.

 

 

Much has been made about “juice hacking” of USB ports at public charge stations. Although it remains unclear how prevalent this is, the fundamental point is clear – the external mechanical port is an obvious opening to the internal workings of your device. The ease and convenience of a mechanical connector, where metal touches metal to form a connection, is also a security nightmare…an open door to your data.

 

Keyssa’s Contactless Connector: Near field, Hidden, and with an Extra Layer of Security Should you Need It

When most people think about wireless data transmission, they think Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular – all of which are designed to broadcast signals over distance. When signals are transmitted over the air, security of the link is a major consideration.

Keyssa is Near Field

Keyssa is a wireless connector, which means it is intended to transmit a very short distance. Think about the distance of a connector – two pieces of metal touching. Now replace the metal with a centimeter of Extremely High Frequency mmWaves – although not literally touching, the distance is still extremely short – a Z distance between chips in the order of a centimeter or so. Why such a short distance? If you want to be a connector and guarantee a Bit Error Rate of 10-12, then you need to control the channel. Once bits are flying across the room, you have lost control of the channel – fine for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but not if you want to meet the strict signal integrity requirements of a connector.

 

Wi-Fi signals are intended to transmit over distance;
Keyssa’s signals are intended to transmit near field

 

Such a short distance has other advantages – for one, security of the link. Keyssa’s chips are extremely low power. After all, they only need to travel a centimeter or so – unlike Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – where distance necessitates an increase in transmit power. With such low power, the signal dissipates within millimeters of its intended receiver, undetectable by someone sitting across the room. And since Keyssa devices operate in the 60GHz portion of the spectrum, specialized equipment would be needed – equipment that is not readily available on the market. A Keyssa link is secure from any practical effort at snooping.

Keyssa is Hidden

One fundamental security issue with mechanical connectors is that they are in plain sight. Obviously so since the point of a connector is to connect two devices easily and intuitively. Easy access to a mechanical connector increases ease of use; difficulty in accessing a connector is considered poor design.

But such easy access, combined with the fact that the vast number of consumer-product connectors are standardized, means there is an open door to the inner workings of these devices…no locks…no alarms…no security.

Keyssa’s wireless connector is embedded inside the skin of the devices, safeguarded from environmental hazards such as water, dust, lint, sand….and more importantly, safeguarded from unwanted connections by strangers.

 

The Back of an LG V50 ThinQ Smartphone:
An invisible high-speed connector with similar functionality to the mechanical connector shown lower left.

 

An Extra Layer of Security Should you Need It

Keyssa offers an optional feature called ID Lockout. Just as the name implies, each chip is coded with a unique ID. If that unique ID is not detected by the transmitting chip, the link fails to initialize, and data is not transmitted.

 

Keyssa’s ID Lockout feature Requires a Unique ID to Establish the Link

 

Rest Assured… Data over a Keyssa Link is Secure

A low-power signal that dissipates in centimeters, a connector that is hidden from view, operating in a part of the band that requires specialized equipment to detect….and if that weren’t enough, an optional feature to build in unique IDs requires to transmit and receive data. Your connector has never been so secure.

 

For more in this series of “Why Keyssa Built a Better Connector,” see:

 

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