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Lightweight Stream Encryption
For IoT Applications

Security is one of THE hot topics today in the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT itself is still in its infancy and the lack of security has quickly become one of its major growing pains. There have been well publicized security breaches of consumer devices that include video from wireless baby monitors being hijacked and posted on the Internet and home automation systems that reveal whether a home is occupied or not. There have been incidents where systems were breached to demonstrate their vulnerabilities and potentially deadly outcomes. In one case, “hackers” were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee through the WiFi network in its on-board infotainment systems and apply the brakes, kill the engine, cause the vehicle to ignoring steering wheel input, etc. Less well publicized are security breaches with industrial equipment, some of which have made entire industrial facilities non-operational. These types of security breaches are rarely made public for obvious reasons.


Unsecure IoT Devices
In spite of all of this, companies are still developing unsecure IoT devices. The most common reasons being traditional encryption algorithms aren’t suitable (particularly for small or battery powered devices) and developing an encryption algorithm in-house is expensive and risky without adequate expertise, research and testing. Most IoT devices don't require anything close to military grade encryption. They do require some degree of data security for the end-user's privacy, security and safety whether the application is consumer or industrial oriented.


The Problems for Developers
Traditional data encryption algorithms aren’t suitable for small IoT applications for several reasons:
  • Code and data memory requirements may be more than the available memory of the small micros used in many IoT devices.
  • Execution times are extremely long, particular for a small battery powered device, taking several dozen to hundreds of clock cycles per byte of data.
  • Most were developed for financial transaction security or military grade encryption of large files, making them extreme overkill for most IoT applications (and contributing to their bulk and poor performance).

Developing an encryption algorithm in-house can take several man-months of engineering time. Many of the companies developing M2M and IoT products don't have engineers lack cryptography experience so the research and extensive testing can take several times longer than the time required for the code development. The cost can easily run over $25K in engineering time and when completed the algorithm may present security risks and/or suffer the same issues that traditional encryption algorithms have for IoT devices. Cutting corners on the research and testing almost always results in security vulnerabilities.

The result is most companies choose not to provide any data security in their products or rely on the encryption provided by a wireless radio module, which only provides security over the wireless network. This may appease some unknowledgeable customers but exposes their information when it is sent over the Internet. End-to-end encryption between the M2M/IoT device and the host server is required for true data security.


The LSE Technologies Solution
To help developers of IoT products, LSE Technologies has developed the family of LSET (Lightweight Stream Encryption Technology) encryption algorithms specifically for use in IoT applications. We offer several C source code packages to choose from based on your application's security needs and available processing resources. These algorithms are based on proven encryption techniques and were developed specifically to operate with small memory footprints (code and data) and execute efficiently on small microcontrollers while providing adequate security for the short messages common in IoT applications. Our algorithms can be used on any network with any higher level network protocol that supports binary data transfers. We also provide functions for random number generation since it is a key element in secure encryption yet it can be very difficult to achieve a high degree of randomness in software, particularly in an efficient manner on a small micro.

In the LSET ProfessionalTM series, we offer three versions:
  • LSET Pro – basic algorithm suitable for customer privacy in many small IoT devices.
  • LSET ProX – uses an enhanced version of the LSET Pro encryption/decryption engine. Includes features for additional security above the encryption/decryption layer.
  • LSET ProXT – based on the enhanced LSET ProX encryption/decryption engine, provides double encryption for additional security. Includes and expands on the LSET ProX additional security features.
With LSET Professional, there is no excuse for compromising your customer's privacy, security or safety.

LSET ProfessionalTM and LSET MakerTM are trademarks of LSE Technologies
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