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Our society is increasingly reliant on smart devices and services, from home automation to manufacturing, medicine, finance and transport, to name just a few. These billions of inter-connected devices with sensors and actuators, reachable almost instantaneously through the ubiquitous internet from any location and any other device in the world, are collectively called the Internet of Things (IoT). All too often, “reachable” means reachable by unauthorized entities as well as intended users. Consequently, as a society and global economy, we have become very exposed to a plethora of new IoT security-related threats that never existed before, some of which have the potential to impact our way of life profoundly. From a vendor’s point of view, being able to address security threats successfully will be a key factor whether a newly introduced IoT Use Case will be successful or not. In addition, the IoT ecosystem is very fragmented and complex to enable an easy and consistent security story and its implementation.

Security threats certainly have already deeply impacted the industry. Some companies have lost stock market value and struggled for months to deliver a solution to their customers and try to recover the damage caused to their brand image. Many of these incidents highlight that we are increasingly reliant on a few, dominant system building blocks, which have not been thoroughly security vetted yet. This paper describes common concepts and usage paradigms of security subsystems that are integrated into and are part of a larger microcontroller or system-on-chip (SoC) controller, which in turn is at the heart of an IoT device.


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The concepts of a security subsystem outlined in this white paper are described from a user’s perspective to address the new upcoming low-cost attacks where attackers use cheap Hardware as well as Software tools to attack IoT devices.

This paper intentionally does not give technical implementation details of the inner workings of security subsystems but instead describes concepts, common elements and usage paradigms.

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