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The Main Challenges in IoT security is How to Address the Paradox of Customization­­­­

Harsha JagadishHow complex is design becoming with more and more connected devices getting its place in a chip. In an exclusive interview with Niloy from BIS, Harsha Jagadish, Pr. Engineer, Marketing, MCU16, Microchip Technology Inc. states as more and more devices are connected to the internet, the main cloud providers are encouraging usage of secure elements to secure private keys. Governments are also defining standards and upcoming legislation that will require the usage of a secure element. A lot more is known about IoT in semiconductors and lot more needs to be explored as the below nub wraps up the leader’s notion.

  1. Microchip’s expertise in the IoT segment? Offerings, product portfolio and flagship offering.

As embedded applications continue to become more interconnected, requirements are increasing. The microcontroller, which is at the heart of any design, is required to be more flexible and offer the right level of intelligence. Adding communication must be simple, supporting a wide range of wired and wireless connectivity. With everything connected, secure connections become a universal need for all embedded applications. Whether they’re connecting to other systems, a smartphone or the cloud, these applications now require security to provide IP, brand and revenue protection.

Microchip Technology provides total system solutions for smart, connected and secure IoT designs.

Our broad portfolio of PIC®, AVR® and SAM microcontrollers (MCUs), dsPIC® digital signal controllers and SAM microprocessors (MPUs) enable intelligence in IoT designs, while offering flexible peripherals and functions that let our customers differentiate their designs. Offering a range of wired and wireless connectivity solutions, either as part of the smart controllers or standalone devices, our connectivity solutions enable customers to add robust, reliable, high-speed connectivity and avoid getting stuck in the complex world of communication regulations by offering designs with certified modules.

With Microchip’s security expertise, our experts take the fear out of designing in security and remove the need for our customers to build costly in-house capabilities. From secure encryption to trusted execution environments, we enable security implementations that meet our customers’ unique needs with our wide range of security solutions, offering the right level of protection at the right price.

To accelerate design time, we offer our intuitive development environments, complete reference designs, free software libraries and automatic code generation tools to design IoT applications. Our IoT smart edge nodes, intelligent gateways and authentication solutions support many cloud platforms including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud IoT Core and Microsoft Azure, and they also work with any on premise servers. This complete offering makes the development of IoT designs simple and enables our users to speed up their production and revenue stream.

  1. Complexities arise with opportunities as IoT goes more mainstream. Trends, challenges and way outs Microchip has witnessed in this technology?

Security is the main concern, and it goes much deeper than just chip level security. It’s about practices. Security is as strong as its weakest link, and humans are just that. There is nothing drastically new to invent in embedded security practices, but there is all the knowledge from the decades of IT security to understand, learn, translate and apply to embedded systems. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, the main cloud providers are encouraging usage of secure elements to secure private keys. Governments are also defining standards and upcoming legislation that will require the usage of a secure element.

One of the main challenges in IoT security is how to address the paradox of customization, which is native in security due to the usage of cryptographic keys versus mainstreaming secure embedded systems across a fragmented mass market. Microchip addresses that logistical challenge with the Trust Platform for the CryptoAuthentication™ family of secure elements. It offers a suite of software and hardware development tools, but more specifically it combines our secure elements with our in-house secure key provisioning service. Our service “loads” the secret keys within our semiconductor supply chain factories and removes the exposure of keys from contract manufacturers or any third party that might be exposed to them. This improves that “air gap” we are looking for between cryptographic keys, firmware and people.

  1. Mention about advanced semiconductor solutions within IOT application from Microchip

Microchip Technology’s AVR-IoT, PIC-IoT WG and WA development boards have overcome the main obstacles that have, till now, limited the possibilities to accelerate prototyping and innovation in the IoT environment. With Wi-Fi connectivity, security and cloud connectivity, the AVR-IoT and PIC-IoT boards are a perfect starting point when connecting a variety of applications—ranging from wireless sensor nodes to intelligent lighting systems—to the cloud for remote command or control. With the combination of a powerful, yet simple, AVR® or PIC® MCU, a CryptoAuthentication™ secure element and a fully certified Wi-Fi network controller module, these plug-and-play boards make it easy to connect embedded applications to the Google Cloud IoT Core or AWS IoT Core. The Click™ connector makes them ideal for sensor prototyping, using existing Click modules or by adding the sensor type required to solve the engineering challenge at hand. When using Microchip’s boards, the main connectivity and security obstacles are eliminated. Now developers can quickly design and evaluate new IIoT 4.0 concepts on a small scale in collaboration with industrial partners. This enables rapid learning and fast iterations, quickly and easily turning ideas and concepts into solutions.

Rapid IIoT 4.0 prototyping optimizes a customer’s cost and efficiency greatly, with the potential to create a novel breakthrough in the way the industrial industry operates. For design houses to be successful in driving the IIoT 4.0 innovation, it is important to partner with the right developers. Cloud and cloud processing require skilled software and web developers. And as data goes from small to big, data analysts and AI experts will also be required.

IIoT providers and industrial companies that do not adopt rapid prototyping to develop advanced automation and monitoring solutions are likely to struggle in today’s competitive marketplace. Very few companies have the skills, time and money to create the secure Wi-Fi solutions required to accelerate prototyping and IIoT 4.0 innovation. Therefore, adopting the building blocks, like Microchip’s AVR-IoT and PIC-IoT development boards, and harnessing the knowhow offered by the right developers, can greatly benefit those companies looking to excel in the industrial market.

  1. After this pandemic, contactless & smart devices are driving the way forward. Semiconductor’s growing role and Microchip’s expertise and focus into this nascent sector?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted individuals and businesses across the world, we now need new solutions that will help us resume our daily lives and work, while also ensuring safety through the reduction of physical contact. Enabling contactless designs, Microchip Technology offers products and solutions, such as smart and low power microcontrollers, wireless connectivity, wireless power, gesture control and touch solutions, that function even when wearing protective gear. Our low power PIC®, AVR® and SAM microcontrollers with ultralow power performance enable contactless designs powered by the energy from the low power RFID. For applications requiring higher power, we offer wireless power solutions that range from 15W up to 400W. Our patented gesture control solution – GestIC® technology – is the world’s first electrical near–field (E-field) 3D gesture controllers. They enable user gesture detection and motion tracking as an alternative for almost all contact-based controls where the interaction can be as simple and intuitive as a wave of the hand. Our state-of-the-art metal over cap touch solution enables reliable designs that can work in any environment, even with protective gear such as gloves. Offering a range of wireless connectivity solutions, we enable our customers to design any applications that can establish connectivity remotely, implementing almost any contactless application use case.

  1. Security is a major concern in IoT devices, how does Microchip ensure it in its solutions?

Security is a major component in an IoT application. It should be a part of every IoT solution – especially for ensuring system identity and when transferring data. Standards and regulations already request designers to not have malice parts that swipe data or gain access into a network. Microchip offers both integrated and standalone security solutions, like devices with advanced security features as well as our standalone ECC608 secure element device. In addition to silicon, Microchip also offers software example and provisioning services to allow customers an easy, smooth security implementation into their embedded systems. Provisioning (secure programming of the keys, secrets and immutable public data) is a key element for a secure system. It ensures the end product manufacturer that the product is secure from day one of manufacturing.


Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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