Securing communication with a Cloud service and manipulating keys comes with many challenges: storing and using keys in the microcontroller exposes them, operating systems and software have bugs, the Heartbleed bug for OpenSSL was notable by easily exposing keys. Consequently, governments and corporations across the globe are working to protect individual identities and privacy. Strong authentication is the start of robust security. This leads cloud providers to push towards hardware-based security to obtain strong device identity protection, prevent identity spoofing, but also to protect against unauthorized firmware updates and prevent proliferation.
An easy way to hack an IoT device today is to physically attack the embedded system and spoof the private key which is likely located in the clear of a microcontroller memory. But hacking a single device or transaction is typically not of value to an attacker. Hackers are looking for weaknesses that will enable them to exploit a large number of connected devices. Once the keys are spoofed, the devices are accessed, a scalable remote attack can be launched leveraging the corrupted IoT devices as entry points
Microchip explains how hardware root of trust work using the ATECC608A secure element and AWS IoT. The Just In Time Registration and Use Your Own certificates functions from AWS IoT allow large scale authentication of automated system, yet secure by protecting private keys from users, software and manufacturing backdoors.
What about the ATECC608A for AWS IoT? Based on the Zero Touch Provisioning Kit (version B) for AWS IoT hardware, you can simply swap the red CryptoAuth-XPRO board to the CryptoAuth-XPRO-B board that includes now the ATECC608A or use one of the socketed AT88CKSCKTUDFN-XPRO add-on boards with your device package of choice.
What remains identical compared to the ATECC508A for AWS IoT? The overall hardware is still using the ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi® module, the SAM G55 Arm® Cortex®-M4 based MCU running FreeRTOS™ and the OLED display board. The TLS is still leveraging the integrated one from the ATWINC1500 provided by Microchip. The AWS IoT setup is also identical.
What is different from the ATECC508A then? The ATECC608A doesn't come preconfigured on the CryptoAuth-XPRO-B board. During the "getting started" procedure, the firmware update necessary to upgrade to the ATECC608A will configure the secure element as part of the process. One of the main added values of the ATECC608A is its ability to enable secure boot capabilities for light embedded systems (illustrated separately). The RNG has been upgraded and an AES hardware accelerator is integrated.
The AT88CKECC-AWS-XSTK-B kit for AWS IoT has been designed to help you start to prototype and learn the basics of secure provisioning. The secure element is pre-configured but not provisioned with keys out of the box. The Python-based scripts will guide you through the steps of provisioning and illustrate the process your company will go through when implementing certificate-based authentication in a production environment. Once the kit is provisioned, it provides a unique, trusted and protected identity.