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Tag Archives: low-power wide-area networks

Can IoT Networks Ever be Secure?

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor
AGL Small Cell Magazine

July 6, 2016 — Long before the Internet of anything (IoX) was even on the horizon, the drive to become more energy frugal in each succeeding generation of wireless equipment has had traction. Not so with security, that has only come on the radar screen, seriously, in the last few years.

Now, these two platforms are some of the key metrics for the next generation of the wireless ecosystem.

With low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technology coming onto the wireless landscape, there is a bit of a conundrum here because low power and security are somewhat dichotomous opposites. Simply put, every requirement for security, be it sending and receiving security-related traffic across a network, or network and application layer cryptography, or other security measures increases the complexity and power requirements of a wireless device. And that is inversely proportional to the movement of designing low-power devices for the Internet of Anything.

But, the bottom line here is that security isn’t an option anymore. Many of the players, such as ARM, are keenly aware that such will be the case going forward. Thusly, they, and many other players are feverishly trying to come up with solutions that will satisfy both requirements.

For example, ARM is developing new processor-based microcontrollers designs for smart sensors that will help secure data inside very tiny chips. And the cost is said to be less than $1. ARM claims its new mbed operating system for IoX devices can offer “banking-class end-to-end IP security across the communication channels through TLS & DTLS” within these new “energy constrained environments.”

There is no doubt that the best security comes at the hardware level. Once this ecosystem is corralled, chip designers will likely emerge as the stakeholder that holds the key to making IoT security commonplace. If security features can be integrated as much as possible into the hardware it will significantly reduce the amount of work currently handled by software. That is a win-win for both power utilization and higj-level security.