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Atmel, Microchip use Intel tech to secure IoT, cloud

Posted: 10 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Atmel  IoT  cloud  Intel  Microchip Technologies 

What makes the present Internet of Things (IoT) different from the previous generations of connected MCUs and untethered platforms is the drive to connect these sensor end-point devices to server-based cloud software. Essentially, every IoT device hardware or software vendor uses the cloud to quickly provide the tools developers can use to programme their devices.

In addition, they provide companies who buy their devices with cloud-based management software to access the devices they deploy and analyse the data they collect.

Security challenges are throwing a monkey wrench into this strategy, not so much on the MCUs or servers themselves but between the devices and the cloud.

To fill this serious security breach, two MCU companies, Atmel Corp. and Microchip Technologies, have turned to Intel Corp. for help. At the recent Intel Developer Forum in late August, the companies revealed they have signed up to use Intel's Enhanced Privacy Identity (EPID) technology, which Intel has opened up to other silicon vendors.

Intel's Enhanced Privacy ID technology

Microchip demonstrated the use of Intel's Enhanced Privacy ID technology on the company's MCUs at the Intel Developer Forum. (Source: Microchip)

EPID is a form of remote anonymous attestation using asymmetric (public key and private key) cryptography. EPID enables cloud-based servers to confirm the integrity and authentication credentials of remote devices without those devices having to reveal their identities or those of their owners. Anonymous attestation requires security hardware, such as a CPU with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) or Trusted Execution Environment (TEE).

At IDF in August, Microchip demonstrated an implementation of EPID to be used to security of its MCUs when connected to servers in the Cloud. As with many IoT device and MCU vendors, Microchip has also invested considerable resources in providing bullet-proof security on all of its 8, 16 and 32bit MCUs.

Most recently, the Microchip's PIC24F GB4 low-power MCU family incorporates an integrated hardware crypto engine with support for the AES, DES and 3DES standards, as well as OTP and Key RAM options for secure key storage. For its 32bit MIPS-based MCUs, the company developed a Crypto Engine with descriptor-based direct memory access for efficient programming of the security association data and packet pointers.

According to Mike Ballard, senior manager, home appliance solutions and IoT at Microchip, when Intel Corp. opened up its EPID to other silicon vendors, the company saw it as an it as an excellent way to fill in a gap in its security solutions between its devices and the servers in the Cloud. "Because EPID is available on almost every server hardware platform its X86 CPUs are used on, that means it is available to secure most cloud-based device management systems," he said.

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