Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece: Page 6 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.”
hardware security module support include PUF (Physically Unclonable Functions), security coprocessors such as TPMs (Trusted Platform Modules), and Trusted Execution Environments such as ARM’s TrustZone.

PUF uses random patterns in the silicon to differentiate chips from each other and creates a unique random number. The generated random number is used to seed a strong device ID and cryptographic keys creating a hardware root of trust.

Security co-processors are physically separate chips offering true isolation of private keys. A TPM is an industry-standards-based securing chip that offers isolation and facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, and true random-number generation. It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage. Its capabilities come at a price, usually moving deployment to higher-end IoT devices.

A hardware security module (HSM) is another physically separate chip and likely at a lower cost than a TPM. Like the TPM, it safeguards and manages digital keys for strong authentication and provides crypto processing. An HSM traditionally comes in the form of a plug-in card or an external device attaching to the protected device, making it somewhat less suited to an IoT device. Depending upon the perceived and likely threat vectors, an HSM may provide an effective solution.

Trust Zone is a single-chip solution segregating execution space into secure and insecure worlds. Insecure apps can’t access security-critical assets. Those same security critical assets are isolated from tampering.

IoT security: the security appliance approach
Security appliances also play a central role in protecting IoT networks from cyber attacks. IoT network architectures are diverse and include a range of devices and computing resources. Not surprisingly, there are equally diverse sets of security appliances for IoT networks. Most of these approaches fall into three main categories; protecting the network and cloud, IoT-specific intrusion detection, and protecting legacy devices.

Network and cloud protection
As with traditional IT networks, security appliances provide a critical layer


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