4th April 2016
Crypta Labs features in iDisrupted: www.iDisrupted.com
IoT and Quantum Security
The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought many amazing new technology innovations to the marketplace, including automated vehicles, utility controls, security cameras, watches, fitness trackers, health monitors, kettles as well as many others. Gartner estimates that over four billion IoT devices will be in use this year, with that number rising to over 20 billion by 2020.
However, many manufacturers, eager for these innovations to reach customers, have failed to sufficiently protect IoT devices. This is often because companies do not understand how to protect them appropriately, or they simply have not understood the requirement for security.
IoT security fundamentally requires strong encryption. This is the responsibility of the IoT manufacturers. They must have an understanding of risks and responsibilities in protecting personal and corporate data as well as functionality of the devices they build.
Manufacturers of all sizes, and across multiple industry sectors, are failing to protect IoT devices, which leaves them vulnerable to both adept (and clumsy) attackers. Many of these manufacturers believe security simply can not be embedded into their devices due to a limited architecture, capacity or processing power. Examples of attacks to IoT devices in recent times include:
- Hospital devices
- Disruption of manufacturing facilities control systems
- Tampering of automobiles (Nissan, Jeep, Tesla, VW)
- Hacking of sniper rifles to disable them or change their targets
At Crypta Labs we fully endorse OWASP’s view that End-to-End Encryption is vital to securing the IoT. We are using the latest quantum technology to build an Encryption Microchip using an innovative true random number generator. The process utilises the quantum properties of light, where we extract random bits from the physical process of photon detection.
Quantum mechanics describes light as a stream of “photon” particles. In this approach, when light is attenuated with a filter (i.e. a semi-reflective mirror or a filter) photons are “randomly sampled”, i.e. unpredictably adsorbed or transmitted according the rules of quantum mechanics.
By embedding quantum mechanics science on a microchip we are building a unique product allowing IoT devices to fully be encrypted, irrespective of the encryption used.
Our innovation aims to enhance the security of the process of random number generation for cryptographic protocols – we will ensure all IoT devices are highly secure and practically uncrackable.
The security of cryptographic protocols relies on the randomness of the keys, i.e. on the difficulty an eavesdropper has to guess the key used to encrypt data (both for symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic protocols). At the present time, the vast majority of these protocols use algorithmic random number generators (RNG), the so called “Pseudo-RNG” (PRNG).
In fact, these generators are based on algorithms implemented in the cryptographic routines. The weakness of this approach it is that PRNG just “imitate” a random distribution of numbers but they cannot be considered “truly random”: an eavesdropper may be able to obtain the initialisation settings of the algorithm so that he or she would be able to guess all possible outcomes, thus compromising the entire protocol.
Quantum based encryption on a chip
The small chip will be used to generate keys to securely communicate between more parties because the generator can forward the secure keys to encrypting communication modules, so called hardware secure module (HSM).
Also, it can be used as a portable device to make inaccessible sensitive data, e.g. the content of a memory stick connected to our hardware can be one-time-pad encrypted with the numbers generated on the fly. There are other hardware RNGs on the market but they are prohibitively large in size and expensive making them unsuitable for many IoT functions.
Having a small and compact chip with lower power consumption will allow IoT vendors to secure their solutions depending on their size/cost requirements. Combining the science of quantum physics and novel engineering processes we are building a unique product, which will directly benefit the whole IoT industry.
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