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09-13-2017

Delicate Conductor Tracks to Repel Hackers

3D-MIDs to Protect Payment Terminals

Sale terminals or ATMs are no refuge of data security. And this was true even before Berlin-based Security Research Labs showed, at the end of 2015, how easily the devices of stores can be attacked.

“To well-versed hackers, a physical attack is no big deal”, confirms Thomas Hess, head of sales and project management at Multiple Dimensions AG in Brügg, Switzerland. By attacking the terminal’s hardware directly, the hackers have access to sensitive data such as credit card numbers and PIN codes. “The devices buffer private information to prevent data loss in case the internet connection is interrupted during payment”, explains Hess.

3D-MID Cover Shields Step up Security Classification

3D-MIDs protect payment terminal from attacks (© Multiple Dimensions)

Multiple Dimensions is a specialist in miniaturization of structures for electronic components and assembly groups. The company uses 3D-MID (Molded Interconnect Devices) for so-called point of sale (POS) terminals. “To access the hardware unit, most attackers use a probe or miniature bur”, says Thomas Hess. In the company’s products, there are conductor tracks right on the interior of the PIN cover shield of the terminal, forming a closed circuit. In addition, they sit so closely to each other that it is virtually impossible for an attacker to enter without interrupting a circuit, according to the company. In case of interruption, the whole circuit will break down – the sale or payment terminal will immediately shut down, the buffered data will be lost, and the device will become inoperable.

Injection molded circuit boards replace conventional solutions with a plastic carrier and circuit boards. They combine reduced weight and low number of components to low production costs. All of these features improve safety, according to Hess.

The Smallest of all Distances between Conductor Tracks in the Industry

Meanwhile, several suppliers like Multiple Dimensions exist. However, the producer from Switzerland wants to make a difference with their extremely narrow conductor tracks and with tracks placed extraordinarily close to each other. The smaller the distance between conductor tracks, the more difficult it is to enter from the outside. According to company information, conductor tracks in most products currently sit at distances between 300 and 400μm. Multiple Dimensions stress that the distance between conductor tracks in their own products is 150 μm, while the production facility is even able to produce 80 μm distance today.

Miniaturization Trend Stirs up Interest

There is still a wide range of possible applications for 3D-MID. Automotive industry, manufacturers of white goods, consumer electronics and many other industrial sectors are interested, too. “From a technical point of view, the more intensely we, as a society, get involved in the subject of 'miniaturization', the more likely it is to use 3D-MIDs in our everyday applications.” This is how Hess describes the future development – in particular regarding the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

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