Mercury Systems buys anti-tamper developer

Mercury Systems, a supplier of military sensor processing gear, said this week it had acquired an Alabama company that designs anti-tampering technology used in defense electronics systems.

Mercury, of Chelmsford, Mass., said Wednesday it is acquiring Lewis Innovative Technologies (LIT) of Huntsville, Ala. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

the company noted that LIT hardware and software security technologies meet stringent Defense Department requirements for protecting critical systems. It specifically cited the privately held company's secure-processing technologies used in embedded computing applications.

Mercury CEO Mark Aslett noted in a statement that it would combine LIT's security technology with its existing secure servers based on the Intel x86 processor architecture. The combination would help Mercury meet government mandates "to secure electronic systems for domestic and foreign military sales," Aslett stated.

Mercury specializes in software, firmware and hardware-based security components used in military processors.

As weapon systems are networked, DOD acquisition officials have moved to shore up global supply chains with "program protection" efforts as well as initiatives designed engineer security into military software and hardware. The program protection effort, for example, seeks to mitigate the "risks to advanced technology and mission-critical system functionality from foreign collection, design vulnerability, or supply chain exploitation/insertion, battlefield loss, and unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure throughout the acquisition lifecycle."

The problem was highlighted again recently when three Chinese nationals were arrested in Connecticut for allegedly attempting to export chips stolen from a U.S. Navy base.

LIT is involved in several DoD security efforts under the government's Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR). These include development of "uncloneable" encryption keys, reconfigurable memory and processing unit instruction sets and anti-tamper technologies for missile defense systems.

According to the SBIR web site, LIT also has developed "anti-reverse engineering" technologies used in embedded processing sensor applications. It also has developed tamper-resistant architectures for unmanned air and ground vehicles.

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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