IoT is the short-hand term for the name Internet of Things. It is the provider of the hyperconnected world we live in today. From cars to kitchen appliances, IoT connects everyday physical objects to the internet via embedded devices, making seamless communication possible between people and processes.
Through the cloud and mobile technologies, IoT enables ‘physical things’ to share and collect data with minimal to no human intervention, recording, monitoring, and adjusting each interaction with great ease.
As the electronics industry constantly evolves and becomes integrated into every bit of our daily lives, IoT increasingly becomes one of the most critical technologies in the modern world, significantly contributing to the betterment of our lives.
However, with such prevalence comes more significant risks, and security challenges are bound to manifest.
IoT security comprises the strategies, tools, processes, systems, and methods used to protect all aspects of the internet, such as physical components, applications, data, and network connections, ensuring the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of IoT ecosystems. Robust IoT security includes all facets of protection, including hardening components, monitoring, keeping firmware updated, access management, threat response, and remediation of vulnerabilities.
IoT security is critical as these systems are vulnerable, making them targets of cyber attacks. In addition, securing IoT devices from unauthorized access ensure they do not become a gateway into other parts of the network or leak sensitive information.
Unfortunately, since a core part of IoT is its connectivity to a network, millions of breaches of IoT devices have a high potential to take place. IoT security vulnerabilities are primarily found in vehicles, watches, smart grids, and smart home devices. In order to counteract this issue, recent security advancements have taken place in microcontrollers.
With improved processing, embedded cryptography, and internet protocol security, microcontrollers help to protect cloud processing through a network link, tackling IoT security issues.
A microcontroller is an integrated circuit device that controls other electronic system portions, generally through a microprocessor unit (MPU), memory, and peripherals. It combines a digital processor and digital memory with additional hardware in order to help the microcontroller interact with other components. They are optimized for embedded applications, such as devices connected by the IoT, that require processing functionality and responsive interaction with digital, analog, or electromechanical components.
IoT security is now at the forefront of concern for nearly every connected device. To secure their devices properly, developers must look for three fundamental microcontroller unit (MCU) features: hardware-based isolation, memory protection units (MPUs), and cryptographic accelerators.
They simplify the embedded security implementation during the design phase and bypass the steep learning curve regarding security technology expertise. Furthermore, these microcontrollers also reduce the cost overhead and power consumption, which are two primary considerations in highly constrained IoT designs.
At a time when the inception of IoT devices is outpacing the rate at which these connected designs are securely deployed, microcontrollers offer a viable path for confronting cyber threats on multiple fronts. Furthermore, they provide a simplified solution with a security design ecosystem to facilitate point-and-click development environments. They use network interfaces to interact with and obtain necessary information from other devices, pushing the data to the IoT application for analysis. Moreover, they are designed to support one or many network protocols, such as Wifi, 2G/3G, RFID, and Bluetooth.
Although both microprocessors and microcontrollers function as small, highly integrated computer systems, they serve different purposes.
While microcontrollers are optimized to perform a dedicated low-power application ideal for embedded systems, microprocessors are more useful for general applications requiring more complex and versatile computing operations.
Overall, using the terms “microprocessor” and “microcontroller” interchangeably is not a significant problem. However, in technical discussions, it’s vital to maintain the distinction between the two concepts.
The Arduino UNO is the simplest and the most potent prototyping environment based on the ATmega328P, becoming one of the first microcontroller-based development boards. It consists of everything necessary for supporting the microcontroller, making it very easy-to-use by both beginners and experts.
Seeed Studio’s XIAO BLE nRF52840 Sense is a compact IoT microcontroller board featuring Bluetooth LE. It is further compatible with machine learning frameworks like TinyML and TensorFlow Lite.
Moreover, it has many features, such as an onboard antenna, 6 Dof IMU, and a microphone within its compact size.
Raspberry Pi Co is the first in-house microcontroller development board put into the market by Raspberry Pi. It can run at a high frequency of 125-133 Mhz, accommodating high computing applications involving machine learning and data collection.
The Adafruit Flora IoT microcontroller board aims to develop a wearable electronic appliance.
With its disk-shaped, round, sewable, Arduino-compatible design, it provides micro-USB and Neopixel LEDs for easy programmability and testing.
Based on the x86 intel microcontrollers, the Quark D2000 is one of the most powerful microcontrollers on the market today, with more I/O controls than others.
Moreover, it is powered through a USB connector and provides low power consumption for its users, offering extreme flexibility with only 3.3 volts of DC supply.
For microcontroller programming, an integrated development environment is vital. An integrated development environment ensures that the right tools, such as code editors, compilers, and debuggers, are available for users to program with ease.
Once a suitable integrated development environment is attained, you can begin writing the code. Microcontrollers are typically programmed in higher-level languages such as C++ or Java. Furthermore, you can add additional features depending on its application.
A microcontroller is at the heart of IoT devices, offering practical, affordable, and flexible solutions to many challenges of circuit design and modern control systems.
With IoT devices ever-increasing within the global market, multiple different types of microcontrollers come to the forefront to offer an alternative and viable path for preventing cyber attacks, as reliable data exchange is critical for IoT networks.