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IoT Nodes Need Simplified Hardware Security Implementation

Ramanuja Konreddy, Project Engineer, Product Marketing, MCU32- Microchip Technology Inc.

The amalgam of ultra low-power computing and connectivity in the Internet of Things (IoT) is at a crossroads. At one end of the spectrum is the promise of design transformation in automotive, industrial, smart home, medical, and more. At the other end is the frequent and regular news of security breaches; ranging from malware that is unleashed leading to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) to battery-drain attacks having the potential of jeopardizing the whole premise and promise of IoT. These security breaches of edge devices leave a lot of the vulnerabilities exposed, which is cause for major concern for IoT developers.

The recent hack of a casino through unprotected IoT nodes is an example of how security breaches can occur. Hackers were able to exploit the vulnerabilities in the connected thermometer of a fish tank in a casino, and subsequently, access the high-roller database of gamblers. Naturally, this brings us to other IoT systems such as home automation which is extremely vulnerable to such breaches, with thermostats, refrigeration and HVAC systems all interconnected. Banks and commercial establishments could are also vulnerable to poor-security CCTV connections across data networks.

Figure 1: Physical and remote security threats to an IoT node and their respective Counter Measures, built into embedded systems to protect against the attacks. (Image: Microchip)

Conventional security practices are usually implemented at the server and gateway levels, but power consumption and the small footprint of edge devices can be constraining when adding robust security in IoT node designs. One must not forget that security application development does add significant overhead in terms of design time and cost.

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Nitisha Dubey

A diligent writer, who has been working from last five years in the same field. She has covered lots of event and expo for travel & judiciary, now covering technology. Book reading, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisine are some hobbies. Love to watch biographies and historical movies.

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