The progress trajectory of the world of Internet of Things (IoT) hit a big roadblock last year when Mirai — a malware that caused one of the worst denial of service cyberattacks the world had witnessed in the last few years, took centerstage. This particular incident caused several people dissing the technology and its developers for not dedicating enough attention on the security of their products and the privacy of their users and thus in the process making several people vulnerable to theft of their personal/private information.
A while back, we even reported about how this whole discourse around IoT and security had tempted Andrew McGill, a reporter from The Atlantic newspaper to design and carry out an experiment to find out the current status of IoT security and how the result of the experiment shocked everyone in the IoT world and the real world completely.
His experiment involved him building a virtual Internet-connected toaster, and then putting it online and waiting to see how much time does it take for the hackers to attempt to breach it. And, what he found out wasn’t something that even the IoT experts that he had spoken to while designing the experiment had predicted. He found out that hacking Internet of Things is actually a Child’s Play For Hackers as contrary to what he thought would take hackers a week to breach, took them only 41 minutes.
It is not that nothing is being done in the space to lift it from the dark dungeon that it has fallen into because of last year’s Mirai controversy, but the process is a little slow. In fact, in the light of the current scenario around IoT, the 2010 founded Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group or the BITAG- an alliance formed by world technology giants Microsoft, Google, Verizon, Intel and a number of other players in the tech industry- has even laid out a set of guidelines so as to improve the security on Internet of Things devices.
While the world tech leaders only issued guidelines for IoT, a team of scientists at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur actually went ahead and successfully built ‘Physically Unclonable Functions’ (PUF) for securing unencrypted networks.
PUFs are basically fingerprint generator circuits for electronic objects which uniquely identify each object, and help in authenticating the commands sent to connected IoT devices. The receiving device have the responsibility of reading the command, verifying the authenticity of the sender and then operate accordingly. The PUF, which consumes very less power and is extremely light in weight, aims to ensure security protocol for device authentication, light-weight key exchange and secure communication.
While the research and the PUF is being highly appreciated worldwide, let’s see if it is successful in helping the IoT win back the trust of its users and get back its secure tag.