MCU Boosts IoT Security With Hardware Crypto Module

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For developers of IoT applications that demand a high level of security, Microchip announced a 32-bit MCU whose unique feature is a cryptographic engine that incorporates numerous encryption and hashing algorithms to prevent security attacks.

The new crypto-enabled MCU ensures that the firmware is uncorrupt by pre-boot authentication of the system firmware, thereby preventing security attacks such as man-in-the-middle, denial-of-service and backdoor vulnerabilities. Further, it can also be used to authenticate any firmware updates, protecting the system from malware or memory corruption, said Microchip.

“Including cryptography in the hardware is a game changer in terms of security. It offers a level of speed and security that just isn’t possible in low-power devices when implemented in firmware. There is a growing need for not just smart but connected devices, especially in IoT applications. Connectivity brings control, sensing and the ability to update system software over the Internet, but it also opens the door to security breaches. The CEC1302 offers sophisticated security capabilities that offer the benefits of a connected device without the security concerns typically associated with being connected to the Internet”, said Ian Harris, vice president of Microchip’s Computer Products Group.

The MCU features authentication and privacy using public key encryption algorithms like RSA-2048, symmetric encryption like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and integrity checking with Secure Hash algorithms (SHA-256 and its predecessor SHA-1).

Microchip claims that the hardware-enabled public key engine of the device is 20 to 50 times faster than firmware-enabled algorithms, and the hardware-enabled hashing is 100 times faster.

Adding security functionality only results in a small additional cost since the CEC1302 is a full 32-bit microcontroller with an ARM Cortex-M4 core. The CEC1302 can be used as a standalone security coprocessor or can replace an existing microcontroller, as mentioned in the Press release.

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Developers can start development with the new MCU using MikroElektronika’s CEC1302 Clicker and CEC1302 Clicker 2 with MikroElektronika’s complete development toolchain for CEC1302 ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs.

The CEC1302 (part number CEC1302D-SZ-C0) is available today for sampling and volume production in a 144-WFBGA package has started.

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