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ARM wants to do its part to help lock down the Internet of Things (IoT).
The recent high-profile Jeep hack has put a spotlight on the potential dangers of IoT security vulnerabilities. Suddenly, discussion has turned from IoT's massive market potential to its risks and shortcomings.
Before billions of smart, connected devices light up the IoT over the next few years – a process well underway – ARM is seeking to make its mobile chip designs more resistant to hackers.
ARM announced last week that it had acquired Sansa Security, an IoT software and hardware security specialist based in Israel, for an undisclosed amount. Sansa's tech can be found in Android devices from Samsung, LG and Sony among other vendors. According to Sansa, each year its intellectual property (IP) helps secure over 150 million devices.
The deal builds on several months of IoT-related launches and deal-making. In February, ARM acquired Offspark, a provider of encrypted IoT communications technology. Later that same month, the company launched its mbed IoT Starter Kit – Ethernet Edition, enabling device makers to securely connect their wares to the IBM Bluemix cloud.
For ARM, the buy turns the chip designer into a one-stop shop for both IoT processors and security solutions, according Mike Muller, CTO of ARM.
"Protection against hackers works best when it is multi-layered, so we are extending our security technology capability into hardware subsystems and trusted software," said Muller in a statement. "This means our partners will be able to license a comprehensive security suite from a single source."
Sansa's innovations include hardware components that isolate security operations from a device's main processor. Running in trusted execution environments, the company's software helps secure content and data as it is processed. Sansa's IP will help reinforce ARM's own integrated TrustZone technology to provide added protection against malware, ARM said.
"Our technology is already being used to protect data gathered and transmitted by a multitude of IoT and mobile devices," noted Sansa's CEO, Coby Sella, in a statement. "Joining ARM will enable us to scale the business by helping ARM's global technology partners to address their most pressing security needs."
Hacking connected cars aside, businesses have reason to nip IoT security concerns in the bud.
A recent study from Dallas-based IT outsourcing company CompuCom revealed that 44 percent of IT pros cited a potential rise in cyberattacks as their top IoT concern. Somewhat related, 28 percent of those polled by the company said they were wary of data privacy and the risk sensitive personal information slipping out of the grasp of IoT systems.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.