Inherently Secure Processor

How do we make computers hacker-resistant?


Computers have been using the same processor architecture since the 1980s. While computers have become smaller, more powerful and cheaper, their security situation has gotten progressively worse. Machines are increasingly connected to more and more networks while handling highly sensitive information, including 401(k) accounts, customer credit card data and security clearance information, greatly increasing the number of access points to the data. As software applications grow in complexity to millions of lines of code, the amount of coding errors increases. Each human error is a vulnerability that presents attractive opportunities for penetration to hackers. These risks pervade the linkage of embedded systems to the Internet, be they home thermostats or cars.

Capabilities Used
Autonomous Systems

Draper combines mission planning, PN&T, situational awareness, and novel GN&C designs to develop and deploy autonomous platforms for ground, air, sea and undersea needs. These systems range in complexity from human-in-the-loop to systems that operate without any human intervention. The design of these systems generally involves decomposing the mission needs into sets of scenarios that result in trade studies that lead to an optimized solution with key performance requirements.  Draper continues to advance the field of autonomy through research in the areas of mission planning, sensing and perception, mobility, learning, real-time performance evaluation and human trust in autonomous systems.


Draper has designed and developed microelectronic components and systems going back to the mid-1980s. Our integrated, ultra-high density (iUHD) modules of heterogeneous components feature system functionality in the smallest form factor possible through integration of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology with Draper-developed custom packaging and interconnect technology. Draper continues to pioneer custom Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and custom radio frequency components for both commercial (microfluidic platforms organ assist, drug development, etc.) and government (miniaturized data collection, new sensors, Micro-sats, etc.) applications.  Draper features a complete in-house iUHD and MEMS fabrication capability and has existing relationships with many other MEMS and microelectronics fabrication facilities. 

Secure & Assured Systems

Over the past 10 years, Draper has extracted miniature systems and real-time embedded systems design knowledge to develop cyber capabilities to assess software vulnerabilities and capabilities to secure electronics systems. Additionally, Draper has demonstrated secure networks featuring over-the-air keying to realize cryptographically encoded, high-bandwidth communications for UAVs and other applications. These complementary capabilities and technologies provide robust security solutions to guard critical embedded systems against cyber, reverse engineering, and other attacks and ensure that critical information can be protected and delivered in a timely and accurate manner.

Image & Data Analytics

Draper combines specific domain expertise and knowledge of how to apply the latest analytics techniques to extract meaningful information from raw data to better understand complex, dynamic processes. Our system design approach encompasses effective organization and processing of large data sets, automated analysis using algorithms and exploitation of results. To facilitate user interaction with these processed data sets, Draper applies advanced techniques to automate understanding and correlation of patterns in the data. Draper’s expertise encompasses machine learning (including deep learning), information fusion from diverse and heterogeneous data sources, optimized coupling of data acquisition and analysis and novel methods for analysis of imagery and video data.

Inherently Secure Processor

The general approach to cybersecurity has focused on perimeter defenses like passwords and firewalls, which may deter some hackers but not the most dedicated criminals. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked the question of whether it is possible to give the cybersecurity industry a reset through its Clean-Slate Re-design of Adaptive, Secure Hosts (CRASH) program. Draper is picking up where DARPA's CRASH program left off to design a family of computer chips called Dover™ that takes its name from the concept of a "do-over," built with security as a fundamental principle. Draper has demonstrated that the chips, which plug the holes caused by human error during software coding, are immune to hundreds of the most common vulnerabilities known today, including the top 25 items on the Common Weakness Enumeration list.

Draper has established an Inherently Secure Processing Hive with a team of hardware and software designers to continue to bring the security principles of the CRASH program to practical embedded systems. The resulting Dover™ chips, which are based on the open-source RISC-V processor, will allow the entire corpus of existing software to operate with only minor changes of the code. A Dover™ chip will be customized for individual customers for their embedded system.

Draper's solution combines our ability to build customized chips with technology protection capabilities honed on projects for the U.S. government. Draper's goal is to strengthen each and every embedded device, including mobile and the Internet of Things, so that all infrastructure is safe and secure.

Technical Contact
Curtis Walker

Cyber Chief Scientist