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To Secure the Internet of Things, We Must Build It Out of 'patchable' Hardware


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Smart watches often hold the owners name, address, date of birth, weight, gender, heart rate, and more, and they can be troublingly vulnerable to hacking.

The burgeoning Internet of Things arena reflects the fastest economic growth experienced of any sector in the history of human civilization; the resulting threats to security and privacy will also be of a scale never experienced before.

Credit: Jamie Chung

The security of the Internet of Things could depend on its constituent hardware becoming "patchable" so it can adapt to future threats, write several experts.

They say this patchability should be designed into the hardware "because it may not be possible to fix all security vulnerabilities simply by modifying the software."

Another reason for making hardware patchable is that small connected devices often must run while consuming little power, and software deployments of a given application usually use more energy than hardware deployments of the same application.

The researchers say a field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based architecture can meet different security challenges. For example, because an FPGA is upgradable, patchable hardware can be deployed to enforce safeguards against newly-discovered threats while using very little power.

One remaining problem is providing a special interface that enables individual intellectual property vendors to use a common mechanism for their blocks of hardware to communicate with a security-policy engine.

From IEEE Spectrum
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