With the growth of IoT devices, going from 15 billion to 200 billion by 2020, and the focus by attackers to get further down the stack, silicon based security will play a greater role in protecting technology and users.
As attackers evolve, they get stronger, smarter, and more resourceful. Traditional defensive structures must advance to meet the new challenges. Security features embedded or enhanced by silicon can be incredibly powerful and deliver benefits in 3 areas: reducing risk of comprise, lower overall cost-of-ownership, and enhance better user experiences.
From a risk reduction perspective, one of the most important areas gaining traction are Trusted Execution Environments (TEE). This is where sensitive functions are migrated from being handled by the Operating System and moved into a protected space in the hardware. This keeps critical routines safely away from malicious actions and other applications, virtual machine monitors, operating systems, or administrative functions which may be compromised. Imagine a banking application being able to run securely on an untrusted or even a compromised system. This is the ultimate goal, where silicon hardware provides a hardened fortress where attackers find it very difficult to succeed.
Reducing costs is always a nice benefit. As security functions, such as Trusted Platform Module’s and biometric authentications, are consolidated into CPU’s the total device cost goes down. Integration means less hardware components, software, and peripherals are needed. Everyone can appreciate that!
Lastly, silicon is being designed to deliver security and improve the user experience. As an example, modern CPU’s now benefit from encryption acceleration functions to make encryption run much faster. This allows hard drive and network traffic to be protected with strong encryption protocols at speeds which users don’t notice a delay. Security can become unobtrusive if done in smart ways. Silicon advances in Identity and Authentication can greatly reduce the friction and frustration of users by reducing password use and intelligently automating logins. Hardware has sped-up software and facilitated better user interfaces for decades. It is time the same benefits are applied to security.
Better security, lower cost, and improved usability benefits. That is the road where security on silicon will take us to ever greater benefits in the next few years.
Want to know more?
- Hardware security and other topics was recently discussed at the McAfee Labs: What’s in store? Cyber threats in 2016 and beyond live webcast on Jan 20th 2016. You can the webcast now, on-demand.
- The Intel Security McAfee Labs 2016 Threat Predictions white paper is now available. Download your copy for free.
- Follow me on Twitter (@Matt_Rosenquist) and LinkedIn to hear more on what is going on in cybersecurity.