CEO forum at Electronica attempts to tackle IoT security, safety: Page 3 of 3

November 08, 2016 //By Peter Clarke
The traditional CEO forum at Electronica continued a theme from two years before: the Internet of Things (IoT) but this time tried to shed some light on how to ensure safety and security. From left to right: Stefan Auerbach of Giesecke and Devrient, Carlo Bozotti of STMicroelectronics, Rick Clemmer of NXP Semiconductor, Professor Frank Fitzek of TU Dresden, Reinhard Ploss of Infineon Technologies and moderator Kilian Reichert.

Clemmer didn't think either should but said company brands could inspire confidence as brand builders had a vested interest in providing secure products. Bozotti took a more a proactive stance saying it is up to government and business to work together. "It is our responsibility to make sure a culture of protection becomes more pervasive," Bozotti said. However, Professor Fitzek chipped in saying he agreed with NXP's Clemmer that brands as a way to communicate safety would be important.

Clemmer was able to get one plug in for the in-coming owner of NXP. He said that machine learning was going to be important and that Qualcomm had the 4G and 5G modems and high-end security processing for the myriad applications.

A questioner from the floor said that the public would buy toasters without realizing they could be used to launch distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. Some sort of label was needed but should not come from government, which was too slow to act. Clemmer said semiconductor companies worked in the background and did not connect directly to customers. He said a label scheme produced by them would have a "very low probability of being successful."

Infineon's Ploss made the point that security must not be static. Therefore, if a toaster became a problem there should be a mechanism whereby it could either be upgraded or kicked off the network.

Professor Fitzek agreed: "Yes we could insist every toaster is a supercomputer; the semiconductor guys would love that. But really we need a smarter network that can monitor itself and exclude the toaster or other rogue devices," he concluded.

Unfortunately, while the panelists could agree that mastering end-to-end security was essential for the success of IoT, little of practical usefulness was shed on this nebulous topic. It could be argued this was the right topic discussed in the wrong forum.