Tag Archives: Cryptotronix

Bringing Bitcoin-based micropayments to the Internet of Things

Cryptotronix recently announced a partnership with TilePay, a decentralized payment system based on the Bitcoin blockchain, to bring cryptocurrency payments to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The collaboration is hoping to make secure payments for real-time access to IoT sensors using micropayments a reality.


Cryptotronix is building open-source authentication hardware and firmware to allow Pinocc.io devices to securely participate in TilePay. The solution is built around Atmel’s ATECC108 crypto engine which allows each TilePay-enabled sensor to have a unique ECDSA private key. (The same chip can be found on the CryptoCape, a dedicated security daughterboard for the BeagleBone created by SparkFun Electronics and Cryptotronix.) This lets users purchasing sensor data to verify the authenticity and origination of the data.

“Let’s consider an example. A company, organization, or a private citizen spends their own money to setup a temperature sensor network. The administrators can offer the temperature service for free (maybe they’re generous), they can charge a subscription fee to the service, or maybe they provide a free service that is subsidized with ads. With TilePay, there is a better option. TilePay will allow real-time access to the sensor and the users only pay for what they use using Bitcoin-based micropayments,” the team writes.

While the CryptoBackPack is currently only a prototype, Cryptotronix shares that it will be releasing the hardware design files and firmware soon.

Atmel’s ATSHA204 helps secure the BBB

Hashlet – an authentication device embedded on a mini-cape – is specifically designed to secure the BeagleBone Black (BBB). 

Powered by Atmel’s advanced ATSHA204, the mini-cape functions as an external hardware random number generator, performs the SHA-256 algorithm in hardware and is capable of storing up to 16 256-bit keys in write and read protected memory.

Manufactured by Cryptotronix, the device is packaged with free software (GPLv3) that provides an easy to use Command Line Interface (CLI).

“The Hashlet is assembled and tested by Cryptotronix prior to shipping,” the Cryptotronix crew explained in a recent product post.
”Simply slip the board on the top of the expansion header and the device is ready. The device uses /dev/i2c-1, which is enabled by default so there are no device-tree files that have to be installed.”

Random numbers (data) are easily generated with a single line command, while creating and verifying a MAC is similarly straightforward. 

According to the Cryptotronix crew, the Hashlet is both 3.3V and 5V friendly and can be used on any device capable of communicating with I²C. Meaning, the mini-cape is also compatible with a Raspberry Pi – if the I²Cs signals are split separately. 

The Hashlet can be purchased here for $12.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s ATSHA204 boasts a number of defensive mechanisms specifically designed to prevent physical attacks on the silicon itself or logical attacks on the data transmitted between the chip and the system. 

Plus, each ATSHA204 ships with a unique 72-bit serial number.

By using the cryptographic protocols supported by the chip, a host system or remote server is able to prove the serial number is authentic and not a copy. 

In addition, the ATSHA204 is capable of generating high-quality random numbers and employing them for any purpose, including usage as part of the crypto protocols of the chip. Access to the silicon is granted via a standard I²C interface at speeds up to 1Mb/sec.

And last but certainly not least, it is compatible with most UART or serial IO controllers. 

So that’s the physical spec rundown, but what about specific attacks ATSHA204 is designed to shield against?

Well, the ATSHA204 is capable of helping to protect devices from a variety of nefarious threats, including algorithmic, protocol, microprobe, environmental, timing, bug, dumpster diving, emissions, fault and power cycling. 

Meanwhile, a secure boot system prevents unauthorized modification of host firmware and protects against unauthorized users enabling extra features without payment. Last, but certainly not least, the ATSHA204 helps thwart illicit system copies, piracy and code reverse engineering.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s secure ATSHA204? You can check out the official product page here and full data sheet here (PDF).