Writing for Semiconductor Engineering, Ed Sperling confirms the industry is now in “full pursuit” of the Internet of Things (IoT).
“In fact, what started as a trickle has turned into something that more closely resembles Niagara Falls,” Sperling opines. “This is particularly true for the so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), where smart sensors on a factory floor already are saving money and predicting potential problems, such as assembly line shutdowns, well ahead of those events.”
Nevertheless, says Sterling, there are still a number of major challenges facing the IoT, including security, competing communication standards and a vast amount of complexity.
However, as Paul Kocher, the president and chief scientist of Rambus Cryptography Research division points out, security concerns have not historically restricted the adoption of technology.
“Lots of vendors are building things and connecting them together in ways that are more complex than PCs today. Some of them will have terrible security,” he explains.
“Even if half of the products are free of security bugs, which is probably wildly optimistic, the other 50% will have problems. With the IoT, you have a wide diversity of devices. While each provides some benefit, it doesn’t matter if one if secure and the ones connected to it are not.”
According to Kocher, the first segment to really “feel pain” will be information technology, namely data centers and cloud services providers.
“When PCs were first introduced, IT departments complained these devices created a security threat because they could be used to steal data and inject viruses,” he continues. “The problem was exacerbated by the addition of smartphones, tablets, USB drives and complex network infrastructures.”
As Kocher notes, the IoT adds even more complexity to an already difficult equation with its plethora of devices designed for connectivity.
“Like most problems, this will start small and get worse. Historically, corporate networks were architected to keep bad people out,” he adds. “But once they’re inside, there are lots of devices that can be used to tap into the network, such as an IoT-connected camera. The IoT brings more benefits than problems, but even the benefits present risks.”
Kocher, who was inducted into the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame in 2014, previously told Rambus Press that cryptographers need to constantly question themselves to avoid being lulled into a false state of complacency – as adoption of cryptographic solutions continue to accelerate at a steady pace.
“Attackers have the luxury of being successful if the methods they try fail 99% of the time and succeed 1%,” says Kocher. “In contrast, for system designers, failing even 1% of the time is unacceptable. We need to secure systems 100% of the time, and a 1% failure rate isn’t good enough, so we’re constantly asking ourselves what we might be missing.”
For the chief scientist, antiquated Enigma machines epitomize the salient challenges faced by modern-day cryptographers.
Indeed, the early cryptography platform – invented by Arthur Scherbius at the close of World War 1 – was used commercially during the 1920s before being adopted by various militaries for enciphering and deciphering secret messages. However, the Enigma code was famously cracked during World War II.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [Remember], the people who designed Enigma deemed the cipher unbreakable, yet it was ultimately cracked by a combination of Polish, French and British efforts,” he concludes.