Future Electronics – How new components for the IoT help balance security with convenience, cost and power

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Amar Abid-Ali
Vertical Segment Director
Future Electronics

In tandem with the electronics industry’s move to migrate almost every type of product and application to the Internet of Things, it is also grappling with the requirement to secure all of these newly connected devices from threats to system integrity and privacy.

Implementing security technology always comes at a cost, whether in power consumption, the user experience, or bill-of-materials expense. But as this issue of FTM shows, component manufacturers continue to extend the scope of their offerings to enable OEMs to find the most attractive balance of security and system functionality.

Of course, unless the entire ecosystem is secure, nothing is secure – the network is only as secure as its weakest link. This heightens the value of the dedicated secure element ICs which provide comprehensive protection – including device authentication and encryption of data traffic – to every link in the chain from end node to the cloud. Both NXP Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics have deep expertise in the development of secure elements: their latest offerings, such as NXP’s A71CH, or ST’s STSAFEJ100, provide a single-chip solution to device and IoT network security, and are backed by software code libraries and other resources to facilitate implementation by OEMs.

In some design projects the constraints are particularly severe: the task for the design engineer is sometimes to provide a convenient user experience while at the same time maintaining secure device authentication, and operating in a low-power or battery-operated environment with limited memory resources.

Again, component manufacturers are continually introducing new products which help designers to achieve the best balance.

For instance, ST’s STM32L4+ family, includes a microcontroller with an Arm® Cortex®-M4 main processor and a cryptographic co-processor, provides a secure internal memory, isolated allocated memory and a true random number generator. The availability of such parts shows that designers can implement a conventional architecture based on a 32-bit microcontroller to achieve very high levels of protection of both the host device and its data.

This issue of FTM shows that there are various ways to achieve high levels of security for embedded and IoT systems, and to protect devices from physical tampering. Engineers at the Future Connectivity Solutions division of Future Electronics are ready to share their expertise with customers to help them to implement more secure designs within the constraints of cost, size and power. Contact your local branch of Future Electronics to find out more, or email info@my-ftm.com.