Suppose you are going to mass manufacture custom circuit boards and would like the manufacturer to upload the device firmware onto these boards before shipping them out. What are some security systems/methodologies/features you would put in place to prevent the theft of firmware IP in order to prevent counterfeit devices?

In short, my goals are:

  1. Upload a binary image of firmware to circuit boards in the assembly line
  2. Prevent the manufacturer from being able to "sniff" the binary being uploaded to each device

2 Answers 2


It's not that easy, but you could use 3 manufacturers, each one completing part of the process.

One may etch the board and put the passives, other gets the bare flash ships and flashes the firmware, the next one would solder microcontrollers already with the firmware.

This isn't a guaranteed way to prevent copy, but makes non trivial to do so. The first one will have all the board plans and passives, but not the controllers. The second will get a binary blob and no idea what is that about, and the third just finishes the almost done board.


You could ship the images with a bootloader that only allows the firmware to be updated, then send customers separately a memory card containing the real firmware.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .