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© binoculars_andres Analysis | December 05, 2014

Semiconductors bring security muscle to IoT

Connectivity and interoperability are key elements for the IoT. The goal is to generate data from many end nodes in products and devices.

These are physical objects with unique IP addresses. Consumers want products and services that will enhance and improve their lifestyles. The forecast for the number of connected devices is expected to reach 36 billion units by 2020. All of this new market opportunity is under threat. At each point in the IoT there are vulnerabilities to malicious attacks and interception of vital information. Security for IoT is complex and encompasses many layers. Security measures involve both hardware and software efforts at all levels of the network. The semiconductor industry is providing the hardware solutions across the IoT ecosystem from the cloud down to the end nodes. “While there is no 100 percent guarantee, a hardware solution is more difficult to crack than a software solution,” says Tony Massimini, Chief of Technology at Semico Research. There are several crypto algorithms which have been approved by government agencies. These algorithms have been implemented in silicon. There are hacking techniques aimed at the chips themselves. Semiconductor vendors and third-party IP suppliers have developed counter measures against such attacks. In all cases it comes down to the matter of cost. How valuable is the data and/or the process that must be protected? What are the consequences of not having security? The IoT’s growth is expected to be due in large part to the consumer market. This includes smart home, consumer electronics, smartphones and mobile computing. Automotive will also play a part as vehicles become more connected. “Consumers need a level of confidence and comfort if they are going to buy into the IoT,” says Semico’s Tony Massimini. Security technology that has been developed for different market segments will be leveraged for IoT. This will help mitigate some of the costs. In its recent report “IoT Security: At What Cost?” Semico Research reviews the issues of security for IoT and the key players providing embedded security. The report cites 24 chip vendors and 19 third-party semiconductor IP suppliers who offer embedded security features. These address a wide range of IoT applications. The report presents the partnerships, alliances and ecosystem issues involving security for IoT. The market segments for IoT are analyzed using a bottom-up approach. Regional breakouts are presented. Companies cited in this report are: Altera, AMD, Atmel, Broadcom, Cavium, Cisco, Crocus Technology, Freescale, Infineon, Inside Secure, Intel, Lattice, Marvell, Maxim Integrated, McAfee, Microchip Technology, Microsemi, NXP, Qualcomm, Renesas, Spansion, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Xilinx, ARM, Athena Group, Barco Silex, ChipStart, Cortus, Discretix, Elliptic, eMemory, EnSilica, Helion Technology, Imagination Technologies, intoPIX, Intrinsic ID, IPCores, Kilopass, Rambus (Cryptography Research Inc.), Secure IC, Sidense, and Windriver.
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