Trintech Technologies Limited develops, manufactures and markets hardware
devices to process credit and debit card payment transactions since
1988. Trintech Group, of which Trintech Technologies is a wholly owned
subsidiary, employs 610 people and has a turnover for 2000 of 50 million
Trintech's objective was to develop a Smart Card Payment Terminal with
on-line PIN (personal identity number) entry for secure debit transactions
based on MCM technology. The terminal stores encryption keys to encrypt
the PIN so that it can be securely sent to an authorisation centre for
validation. The encryption keys must not be accessible as they contain
highly sensitive information, which must be kept secure at all times.
Therefore the PIN entry device must protect the memory and encryption
Security requirements were previously met by enclosing the PCB (containing
sensitive components) in a fine wire mesh and encapsulating (potting)
the mesh in epoxy. Any attempt to breach the mesh is detected by anti-tamper
circuitry that activates an alarm. Further sensors are included to detect
attacks on the epoxy and housing. However, the production process is
expensive, labour-intensive and slow, and any failures detected after
potting result in the entire unit being discarded.
Trintech performed a feasibility study of the available technologies
and identified MCM (Multi-Chip Module) technology as the best method
for reducing the size while maintaining high security. The advantages
of MCM technology over the existing technology include:
- reduced terminal size (up to 60%)
- decreased unit cost (16%)
- high security
- improved manufacturing reliability
The security sensitive electronics are placed in a single "secure chip"
which include the tamper detection features. By using a micro vias design
the sensitive nodes will be buried under the IC making it impossible
to probe the MCM without destroying it. The inside of the MCM package
alone will be potted thus eliminating the requirement to pot the entire
functional area, as with the current Trintech terminal range.
The MCM prototype will be used initially in the high security PIN
entry device, the PINPad 950, providing weight reduction (60%) and improved
manufacturability although the size remains the same. The MCM will then
be introduced to a new unique secure range of portable (hand-held) and
desktop terminals called the 'Barracuda' range, where a terminal size
reduction up to 50% will be achieved. Thereafter the MCM device will
become an integral part of all future Trintech hardware products.
Difficulties in implementing MCM technology included:
- The stringent requirements of the security approvals board (Debis
- Porting the present PCB design into an MCM
- The high cost of development of an MCM
The project total cost was 190 kEuros, of which Trintech was liable
for 105 kEuros in production and approvals costs. The total FUSE funding
was 70 kEuros. The expected payback period for the total investment
(190 kEuros) will be 24 months, and a ROI of 500% (5 times) the total
investment for a 5-year product lifetime.