Top semiconductor manufacturers are taking on the challenge of securing networked devices and are pushing solutions that aim to achieve this difficult goal with innovations at both the silicon and software levels, said industry executives speaking at the Electronica Trade Show in Munich, Germany. The CEOs of Europe’s leading chipmakers Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics told the audience at a roundtable event that semiconductor companies believe the security of Internet of Things (IoT) products is critical to the market’s growth and said they are making concerted efforts to protect devices that use their components.
With billions of electronic and high-tech devices gaining connectivity intelligence, security of the network and IoT devices has become in recent years a major concern for manufacturers, enterprise users, consumers and governments worldwide. Throughout most parts of the global economy a growing sense of danger bordering on panic is gripping users about the current state of networked equipment even as the rate of connectivity penetration into all industry segments has risen.
Recent spikes in hacker activities at retailers, banking institutions and other service industry sectors as well as the release of confidential political e-mails have also deepened the concern about the industry’s ability to market its products as secured and reliable, the executives said.
Chipmakers are confronting these concerns and are trying to allay users’ fears with innovative security programs and efforts that are focused on ensuring multi-layer protection for IoT products, said Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics in comments at the Electronica CEO Roundtable today. Bozotti said his company has been working on both hardware and software level security for its products especially components aimed at industry segments that aim for zero failure. To further secure the entire system; however, Bozotti insisted chipmakers must be in the vanguard of efforts to address the challenge.
“Chipmakers have to address all levels of risks in the connectivity products,” Bozotti said. “It’s the responsibility and duty of chipmakers to help secure the connectivity of OEM products. We have to provide security at the software level and in trusted hardware.”
The two other chip industry executives on the panel agreed with Bozotti. NXP CEO Rick Clemmer went further to state that semiconductor companies must now be at the center of IoT security and implement redundancies in hardware and software products.
“Security was an after-thought in the initial design of the internet,” Clemmer said. “The requirement for the future would have to be different. Chipmakers need to lead this but it is also the responsibility of the customers to adopt and implement the security options offered by semiconductor companies.”
Frank Fitzek, a lecturer at Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany, said 5G communications system will offer the entire industry the opportunity to retool IoT security via multiple connectivity security points, building on the concept that connected devices must have numerous layers of redundancies in the goals of providing a secure environment for accessing and providing data. Such a system will focus not simply on providing security at the level of each device but primarily at the access points where permissions and rights are given by the network administrator, he said.
‘”5G offers us the chance to make the lives of hackers more difficult,” he said. “The current system is often too slow to detect security risks because it is not being secured at a holistic level.”