LONDON Algotronix Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland) has a reference design that provides Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which provides an interface to Altera's NIOS II soft processor that works with the G3 core to provide AES encryption and decryption of files passed over a USB 2 interface.
The product works on Altera's Cyclone II-based DE2 evaluation board and can form the basis of a low-cost self-contained crypto module housed in a USB stick similar to those used for memories.
For Xilinx users, a related reference design running on a Xilinx Spartan -3 evaluation board will combine the MicroBlaze processor with an Ethernet connection to a host PC.
The reference design fits into lower-cost FPGA families and provides the processor controller to drive an external USB chip. In addition, test software is included to load onto the target PC where the files are stored. This GUI provides the facility to verify the upload and download of files and compare the hardware results with a reference software implementation of AES.
An advantage of using external hardware for encryption is that the encryption key need never be stored on the host PC. It is therefore not vulnerable to malicious code such as viruses or keystroke loggers which can capture cryptographic keys entered through the PC keyboard.
The reference design can be used by customers as the basis of secure USB 'dongles' for portable applications and in the future may be extended to address secure hard disks connected via SATA or PCI Express. The reference design is available for purchase either bundled with the AES G3 encrypt/decrypt core or separately. The AES core is National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certified and and is widely used by military and commercial users
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