A newly designed microchip will reduce the power consumption on public-key encryption devices by 99.75%, but increase speed by 500%, according to researchers at MIT.
The Internet Of Things (IoT) may have been touted as a positive thing with lots of potential when it first came on the scene, but as anyone who regularly reads the news here on FileHippo.com, security has been something of an issue to say the least. (While admittedly many of the issues have been associated with users of IoT, but manufacturers and designers are not without blame either.)
But security on IoT devices may have just been handed a new weapon by security researchers at MIT.
They’ve built a new chip. Specifically, they’ve built a new chip that is hardwired to perform public key-encryption, but that only uses 1/400th of the power that software enabled public-key encryption uses. As well as that it only consumer about 10% of the memory, and runs 500 times faster than current equivalent software run encryption services.
Faster, more efficient
Xiaolin Lu, director of the “Internet of Things” lab at Texas Instruments, said: “Most sensitive web transactions are protected by public-key cryptography, a type of encryption that lets computers share information securely without first agreeing on a secret encryption key.
“They move a certain amount of functionality that used to be in software into hardware… That has advantages that include power and cost. But from an industrial IOT perspective, it’s also a more user-friendly implementation. For whoever writes the software, it’s much simpler.”
It’s not rocket science, but I still don’t get it
Quite how the new chip functions is relatively complicated, and the paper published by MIT doesn’t help your average tech journalist explain it in a few lines. “A special-purpose chip hardwired to implement elliptic-curve cryptography in general and the datagram transport layer security protocol in particular reduces power consumption by 99.75% and increases speed 500-fold, to help enable the internet of things”. Got that?!
Power and bandwith
Most Public-Key Encryption services rely on software to encode “sensitive on-line transactions” from one end to another. For most services and applications such as banking and email, etc, it works quite well (mostly).
However, the Internet of Things is based on devices and utilities being channeled through multiple networks and linked with sensors on the IoT device itself . As a result, including even basic public-key encryption protocols would consume a significant amount of battery power and memory bandwidth.
At the time of writing, there was no news on when the new chip might start making its way into the market place.