Securing the Internet of Things

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Securing Devices

The number one threat for most equipment designers today remains the protection of their intellectual property. Having spent million of dollars on research and development too many companies see their valuable creation in cloned devices or cheap copies. Overproduction “grey” trading and counterfeit devices create false markets and reduce revenue, and of course the injection of malware on or before the manufacturing run can have massive consequences for the organization.

It is therefore imperative that the industry develops solutions that protect critical code and intellectual property from the moment of birth, to inhibit theft and prevent device cloning. Naturally issues arise from this, not least the issue of whom you trust within your manufacturing stakeholder chain, and thus we rapidly have to develop a practical zero-trust framework where only two pieces of information are guaranteed – firstly the device is personalized within the fabrication plant, and secondly the OEM is the only party with the key to their application.

To secure devices it is vital to create a robust secure kernel within the device that is implemented at the point of creation in the fabrication plant. This has previously been accomplished for high value chipsets, such as mobile handsets, but today must also be applied to IoT devices ranging from lowly edge devices through to gateways and other compute engines within the system. Only by creating a root of trust, encompassing a secure boot and fundamental key provisioning, can we both ensure that the devices become inviolate and capable of being programmed with validated code.

The delivery of these mechanisms to the embedded space has previously being stymied by cost and complexity issues, however the migration to new process nodes coupled with intense development in the mobile domain is now enabling cutting edge technology to migrate to the lowliest of devices.

Further industry development has been required to enable the deliver of critical key material once the OEM has encrypted applications. In the example we have investigated this has been accomplished through cloud-based HSM solutions and also through the use of tamper resistant devices for high value intellectual property. This type of solution can provide a double-lock solution, ensuring that malware in unable to be injected into devices, even where they have yet to be programmed, and also provide a critical mechanism to manage device production, removing the opportunity for over-production and cloning of applications