Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece: Page 5 of 10

August 04, 2017 //By Alan Grau, Icon Labs
Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece
When it comes to protecting IoT devices from cyber attacks, both device hardening and security appliance approaches each has its supporters, but there are trade-offs between “device-centric” and “appliance-centric.”
networks. If embedded devices can support basic IDS they will no longer be easy targets for hackers.

PKI and certificate-based authentication
A well-known and tested security solution has recently seen a dramatic rebirth in the IoT recently. PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) is a set of technologies and services for managing authentication of computer systems.

PKI certificates are very useful in high-security situations. For example, suppose that you needed to securely transmit data between two networked devices. How do you really know you are transmitting the data to the intended device and not to an imposter?

One way of ensuring the integrity of the transaction is to use digital certificates to prove the identities of both machines. Without getting into the details of the public/private key cryptography technology that makes this possible, an IIoT device can verify the certificate holder is the entity specified by the certificate.

These services are enabled using public/private key cryptography providing the technical underpinnings of PKI. The result, which is what really matters, is a device can verify, with cryptographic certainty, the holder of the PKI certificate is really who it claims to be and not an imposter.

Cryptography and secure key storage
Secure communication protocols, data-at-rest protection, secure boot, and secure firmware updates all rely on encryption and certificate-based authentication. A security framework must provide support for the cryptographic algorithms used by these features.

It must also provide the ability to securely store the encryption keys and certificates used to encrypt data, authenticate firmware, and to support machine-to-machine authentication. Secure key and certificate storage is a critical requirement. If a hacker can discover the encryption keys, they can completely bypass an otherwise robust security solution.

Hardware security module support
Many new IoT platforms include a hardware security module providing secure key storage, protected memory regions, and cryptographic acceleration. A security framework must be designed to allow easy integration with hardware-based security features.

Likely candidates for


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