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Computer scientists develop tool to make the Internet of Things safer

Computer scientists have developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security -- a first for the field. There is a big push to create the so-called Internet of Things, where all devices are connected and communicate with one another. As a result, embedded systems -- small computer systems built around microcontrollers -- are becoming more common. But they remain vulnerable to security breaches. Some examples of devices that may be hackable: medical devices, cars, cell phones and smart grid technology.

There are two main threats in hardware security. The first is confidentiality. In some types of hardware, one can determine a device's cryptographic key based on the amount of time it takes to encrypt information. The tool can detect these so-called timing channels that can compromise a device's security. The second threat is integrity, where a critical subsystem within a device can be affected by non-critical ones. For example, a car's brakes can be affected by its CD player. The tool can detect these integrity violations as well.

Source: University of California

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