Merck Patent GmbH (Darmstadt, DE)

The present disclosure is in the area of protection against counterfeits of products. This disclosure is targeted towards a composite security mark for physical objects, and specifically an anti-counterfeit products marking. In particular, but not limited to this type of security markings can be utilized as a part of or constitute a part of a multi-component security solution that includes an anti-counterfeit system which is also disclosed herein as part of an overall security solution that protects against counterfeits. The composite security mark consists of the PUF (physical unclonable function) and an indication or pointer to the location from which the digital signature could be accessed. Digital signature digitally signs the hash generated by applying a predetermined cryptographic hash function to the data. This is a response to the challenge of a specified challenge-response authentication system.

Counterfeiting products are an issue in many industries. It not only impacts the revenue of original product manufacturers, but it could be a risk for the health and well-being of the consumers. Fake products.

The categories of safety-relevant products comprise, in particular, components for automobiles and air-craft components for the construction of buildings , other infrastructure, food, and even medical devices as well as pharmaceuticals.

The industry has created a variety of security measures to stop counterfeiting and address safety concerns. The most common protection measure is to include an additional security feature to an item. It is a feature that is hard to counterfeit. For instance, security threads, embedded magnetic particles, optically-variable inks, holograms and security threads are just a few of the well-known security features that are difficult to replicate by counterfeiters. Certain security features, i.e. can easily be observed or otherwise recognized by the user of the product, many of the security functions are “covert”, i.e. they are hidden and can only be detected by using specific devices, such as sources of UV-light, spectrometers,microscopes or magnetic field detectors, or even more sophisticated forensic equipment. Examples of covert security features are in particular printings with luminescent ink or ink that is only visible in the infrared part of the electromagneticspectrum but not in its visible part, specific material compositions and magnetic pigments.

One group of security features that are used in cryptography is known as “Physical Unclonable Functionals” (PUFs). Sometimes, PUFs could be called “Physically Unclonable Functions”, or “Physical Random Functions”. APUF is a physical entity that is embedded in a physical structure and is simple to analyze, but hard to predict, even for an attacker who has physical access to the PUF. PUFs depend on the uniqueness of their physical structure that typically has a random component which is part of the physical entity , or is specifically introduced into or created within the physical structure during production and that is unpredictable and in control. Therefore, even PUFs made by the identical manufacturing process differ at the very least in their random component, and thus can be different. While in most cases PUFs are concealed features, this is not a limitation and overt PUFs can also be produced.

PUFs are most well-known in connection with their implementation within integrated electronic circuits by the minimal, unavoidable changes of the microstructures that are produced on a chip within given process-related tolerances. They are also being used for deriving cryptographic keys, e.g. in chips used for smartcards and other security-related chips. An example of an explanation and application of such chip-related PUFs is disclosed in the article “Background on Physical UnclonableFunctions (PUFs)”, Virginia Tech, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2011, which is available in the Internet at the hyperlink

However, different kinds of PUFs are recognized for instance random distributions of fibers in pa-per, which is used as a substrate to make banknotes, in which the orientation and distribution of fibers is recognized with specific detectors, and then used as a security feature on the banknote. To evaluate the authenticity of a PUF, a challenge-response-based authentication method is employed. The “challenge” is a physical stimulus that is applied to the PUF and the “response” is its response to the stimulus. The microstructure’s unpredictability and uncontrollable nature determines the response. This can be utilized to verify PUF and make it an actual object. A specific challenge and the associated response form a “challenge-response pair” (CRP).

Asymmetric cryptography is also known as “public key cryptography” as well as “public/private cryptography”. It is a well-known method of cryptography that relies on key pairs. Every pair comprises a public keyand private key. While the public keys can be easily distributed and available to anyone, private keys remain secret and are only accessible only to the owner. Asymmetric cryptography enables both (i) authentication, where the public key is used to verify that the holder of the paired private key has originated an information, e.g. a message or stored data containing the information, by digitally signing it using his private key, and (ii) protection ofinformation, e.g. A message or stored data encrypted using the private key paired. Only the owner/holder of the private key can decrypt the message which is encrypted using the public keys of another person.

Recently Blockchain technology has been developed, wherein a blockchain is a public ledger in the form of a distributed database comprising a plurality of data blocks and which maintains an ever-growing database of records, and is protected against revisions and tampering through cryptographic techniques. The virtual Bitcoin currency that is used for transactions with money via the Internet is an exemplary usage of blockchain technology. The Ethereum project is another popular blockchain platform. Blockchain is basically a decentralized protocol that logs transactions between parties. It records transparently any modifications to its distributed database and stores them. It keeps the changes “forever” meaning that they’ll be accessible to users for throughout the existence of the blockchain. In the process of storing data in a blockchain involves digitally signing the data to be stored in a block of the blockchain. In addition, maintaining the blockchain involves a process known as “blockchain mining” that is when so-called “miners” are an integral part of the blockchain infrastructure, confirm and seal every block to ensure that the information contained therein is kept “forever” and the block can no longer be modified.

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