MIT reveals public-key encryption chip to secure IoT devices

Let’s face it, the internet of things is anything but secure. And users are also to blame for this, not only manufacturers. The focus has been too much on innovative specifications and not enough on security and regulations. But the industry appears to be moving in the right direction and as all great things take time, we might have to wait a bit before IoT will be properly secured.

In the meantime, security researchers are working hard at safeguarding IoT infrastructures. For example, MIT has been working on an energy-efficient chip for public-key encryption of the internet of things. Public-key encryption is used to secure sensitive online transactions and is run by software. Because IoT is based on multiple networks connected via sensors and traditional public-key encryption protocols would consume battery and memory, MIT researchers built this chip specifically for IoT security.

“A special-purpose chip hardwired to implement elliptic-curve cryptography in general and the datagram transport layer security protocol in particular reduces power consumption by 99.75 percent and increases speed 500-fold, to help enable the internet of things,” reads their paper that is to be presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference.

This means devices can share information securely through a public, insecure network without initially agreeing on a secret encryption key. Third-parties will not have access. Embedded IoT encryption would automatically be a great step ahead, as it would ensure better privacy and safer data transfers. The new chip can be embedded in any smart device, including cars, home appliances, livestock tags, smart city infrastructures and any type of gear to share info securely.

“Cryptographers are coming up with curves with different properties, and they use different primes,” says Utsav Banerjee, MIT graduate in electrical engineering and computer science and one of the researchers in the project. “There is a lot of debate regarding which curve is secure and which curve to use, and there are multiple governments with different standards coming up that talk about different curves. With this chip, we can support all of them, and hopefully, when new curves come along in the future, we can support them as well.”

One comment

  • By Blair Ducray-oppat - Reply

    Will you be including this in the next version of BOX?

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