What Role Does Security Play in the IoT Realm?

By Mark de Clercq, Director of Low Power Connectivity Business Unit

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already everywhere you look. While we’ve discussed in previous posts that the market is poised to explode from roughly 6 billion devices today to more than 27 billion a decade from now, statistics don’t always tell the whole story.

In reality, every Bluetooth-enabled device is an IoT device. The whole premise of this concept is that devices can share data between each other, meaning the IoT isn’t limited to just the Tile Slims and Kontakt IO Cards of the world, but also the smartphones that control them that live in our purses and pockets.

This means that almost all adults in the developed world have at least one IoT device regularly on their person that, in theory, is capable of sharing information about them with any other individual equipped with a compatible device. The widespread nature of connectivity has raised many questions about IoT security, and whether or not IoT devices could be as vulnerable to hacks and malware as traditional computers, since seemingly all of these devices can be in communication with each other, even if the user doesn’t know.

Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily how IoT devices work as a rule. While applications that use IoT devices – even smartphones – need to have their own security stopgaps, the underlying hardware that provides a platform for the application to function needs to be secure from the get-go in order to keep IoT networks and the data traveling over them secure.

A non-secure IoT device, for instance, will feature old and unpatched embedded operating systems and software. This is compounded when device purchasers fail to change default passwords, or fail to choose a sufficiently strong password to lead potential hackers astray. Often, this happens when individuals fail to purchase updated or current-generation technology, which in the realm of IoT is the equivalent of ignoring updates to the malware software you use on your computer.

Luckily, Dialog’s SmartBondTM line of SoCs help power and connect many of the most popular and revolutionary IoT devices both on the market today and coming down the pike. This line of chips features a dedicated hardware crypto engine that delivers banking-level security with end-to-end encryption to safeguard the personal data traveling over IoT network connections.

The dedicated hardware encryption engine includes support for hashing functions (SHA-512), symmetric (AES-256) and asymmetric cryptography algorithms (ECC), along with a true random number generator. What’s perhaps most remarkable about these chips is the fact that they can juggle all of these features while still reducing a device’s power consumption.

While many headline-grabbing security and data breaches may be attributed to IoT in the years to come, equipping devices with SoCs that provide the level of security users can trust will go a long way in stopping hackers in their tracks, thus allowing device makers to continue innovating.