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Intel SDO to scale, secure IoT

William Payne
October 19, 2017

Intel has announced technology to automate and bring IoT devices online within seconds rather than hours. The company believes that adoption of IoT technologies is being hampered by challenges of scaling and security. Intel's Secure Device Onboard (Intel SDO) is designed to address these challenges. The technology is aimed at IoT platform providers as a service they can provide to customers needing to onboard thousands of connected devices.

Intel SDO's “zero touch” model allows devices to discover dynamically the customer's IoT platform account at power-on for automatic registration. It offers a one-to-many, one-time enablement solution that can be integrated into almost any device or IoT platform, thereby eliminating the need to custom pre-load provisioning configurations for each IoT implementation.

Intel has expanded the availability of Intel SDO across the IoT ecosystem. Other silicon providers like Infineon, Microchip and Cypress Semiconductor will embed the EPID identity capability in their hardware. Cloud service platform and device management software providers like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Intel's Wind River Helix Device Cloud intend to provide integration to support Intel SDO's zero touch model.

Intel SDO is now integrated with Wind River Helix Device Cloud, its device lifecycle management platform that enables IoT devices to securely connect, monitor, manage and service devices. With the integration of Intel SDO, Wind River's latest release of Device Cloud includes zero touch onboarding designed to mitigate the risk of security attacks to a device, ensure privacy and deliver automation that dramatically reduces installation and onboarding time to mere seconds, among other new features and capabilities.

Swiss based oil and gas services company Weatherford International has been part of the Intel SDO pilot programme. The company wanted to pull data from existing controllers and install new wireless sensors through a gateway to the cloud to drive oil and gas insights. Using Intel's SDO and Wind River's Device Cloud, Weatherford reports that it has created a secure, scalable oilfield ecosystem from zero-touch onboarding to continual gateway management. It projects the market for managed devices could reach 290,000 wells, representing 870,000 sensor data points and nearly 10,000 IoT gateways at a global level.

According to Intel, claims that we will see 50 billion IoT devices by 2020 are wide of the mark. The company says that we are nowhere near to reaching these numbers. It says recent research indicates that closer to 30 billion devices will be active by 2020. Intel says that the lower number is the result of real-time issues of scaling deployments and security.

Current provisioning and management of IoT devices is a huge challenge as it is done manually, says Intel. It involves coordination between installation technicians, IT network operations, and operational technology teams. A single device typically takes more than 20 minutes. Installing 10,000 “smart IoT” light bulbs could take two years to complete the process using current approaches In addition, there is further effort required to maintain device privacy and security.

The Intel SDO uses Intel's privacy-preserving IoT identity solution, the Intel Enhanced Privacy ID (Intel® EPID), to authenticate anonymously the device and establish an encrypted communication tunnel. This helps prevent hackers from tracing the device from factory to owner. Intel EPID is designed to establish a best practice identity model for IoT onboarding and is a proven method with over 2.7 billion keys distributed in Intel and non-Intel MCU processors since 2008.