A Matter of Securing the IoT Edge

Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing aims to bring computing capabilities closer to the data source and the IoT devices at the infrastructure’s edge. It is about enabling better (and near) real-time data processing for more timely decision-making and reliable services. But the key to IoT edge applications is a reliable security apparatus. In this resource, we tell you about some of the most notable IoT security technology developments and how prevailing challenges can be overcome. But first, let’s survey the demand forecasts for Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) within the IoT edge space.

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Market Overview

  • The Arm TrustZone Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is the most popular TEE used within Microprocessor Units (MPUs), to date, including within IoT edge devices, and is available in all Cortex-A processors and all Neoverse processors, as well as in a select number of Arm Cortex-M cores (M23, M33, M35P, and M55). However, it is increasingly challenged by RISC-V-based MPUs, which have their own equivalent TEE. Both are considered within our forecasts.
  • The Total Addressable Market (TAM) in terms of global shipments for TEE Systems-on-Chip (SoCs) stands at 922 million units in 2022. Mobile SoCs form the vast majority of TEE SoC shipments, with the IoT representing only about 10% of that total in 2022.
  • ABI Research expects the IoT share to grow significantly over the forecast period, reaching almost a quarter of total shipments by 2026. Total shipments are expected to reach 1.32 billion, with those targeted for IoT edge devices estimated at 306 million.
  • The top three sub-markets for TEE SoCs in the IoT edge are utilities and industrial IoT (116.23 million shipments in 2026), smart cities and buildings (57.99 million shipments in 2026), and wearable computing (41.91 million shipments in 2026).

“Applications that require high security assurance will use substantial processing power and add a significant amount of overhead to communications, but there are other demands, including flexibility, throughput, and dependability.” – Michela Menting, Director at ABI Research


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Key Decision Items

What Is Stimulating Demand for Microprocessor Units?

Many of the security features of Microprocessor Units (MPUs) are driven by a growing demand for creating a Trusted Computing Base (TCB) in IoT devices. Enterprises want to ensure they have a hardware foundation that can extend trust from the device itself to all the ancillary applications and services it will cater to in its lifetime—from analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to connectivity and cloud.

The Necessity for Secure IoT Edge Communications

Key to developing secure applications is the ability of IoT devices to communicate securely to networks and the cloud to deliver the data processed at the edge. As a result, a host of accompanying security edge management platforms and services have emerged to send the data to back ends securely. Almost all hyperscalers and cloud service providers, such as Microsoft Azure IoT Edge and Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Edge Device Defender, offer some form of security solution in this space.

Recognize the Edge Device as the Foundation of a Secure IoT Ecosystem

The edge device is that starting block for building a hardware Root of Trust (RoT) that can be used as a secure anchor in the IoT ecosystem. It is a security-by-design method that seeks to define security as an indispensable part of semiconductors’ and Original Equipment Manufacturers’ (OEMs) future business models in terms of enabling the lifecycle management of devices.

Identify the Top Applications for IoT Edge Device Security

Below is a list of some common IoT edge device use cases that require powerful processor capabilities and where there is strong demand for MPUs and other security functions.

  • Industrial: Energy gateways, factory robotics display, industrial Ethernet connectivity, inverter, and multi-functional service motors.
  • Automotive: Electric Vehicle (EV) charging, infotainment and in-vehicle experience, and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications.
  • Building: Access controllers and building automation.
  • Smart Home/Consumer: Home appliance, intercom/doorbell, patient monitoring, portable medical device, smart home control, vision AI gateway, and wearables.
  • Vision: Embedded vision, image inspection, Internet Protocol (IP) camera, multi-camera image support, security camera, and surveillance camera.
  • Other: Cloud gateways, data concentrations, edge analytics, embedded AI, e-readers, graphic remote controls, IoT gateway, resistive touch screen, and sensor hub/aggregator.

Leveraging Operating Systems to Expand IoT Security IP Products

IoT Operating Systems (OSs) will enable architectural separation through virtualization, compartmentalization, or containerization (containers are sometimes also known as enclaves), thus allowing for sensitive operations to be run securely.

Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) are a good example of such partitioning and are increasingly used in intelligent edge devices where the processor allows. Arm’s security IP TrustZone, the open-source OP-TEE OS, and Open Enclave Software Development Kit (SDK) are designed to these ends. These services provide secure environments within which highly sensitive workloads and security-sensitive applications (like payments or content protection) can be run, alongside other non-secure environments in the processor.

Key Market Players to Watch

Dig Deeper for the Full Picture

To learn more about the latest security technology developments in the IoT edge, download ABI Research’s Processor Security for the IoT Edge research report.

Not ready for the report yet? Check out our Research Highlight How Can Cybersecurity Vendors Meet the Multitude of Needs of the Railway Sector? This content is part of the company’s IoT Cybersecurity and Trusted Device Solutions Research Services.