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'Internet of Things' Must Be Secured

Vint Cerf, the Internet's founding father, has issued a challenge for security researchers to safeguard devices connecting to the Web.

As more objects -- PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones as well as everyday objects -- are equipped with sensors and wireless antennas that connect to the Web, there is a growing “Internet of Things.” And for Internet patriarch Vint Cerf, now an evangelist at Google, ensuring the security of this Internet of Things is imperative.

Speaking at RSA 2013 in San Francisco on Feb. 27, Cerf said that an identity-led system would bring security to the world’s connected devices. According to TechWeek Europe, he suggests a system based on devices that can generate a truly unique public-private key pair. And the private key, he said, could neither be extracted without destroying the pair nor computed from the public key. The system should also be able to encrypt or decrypt Internet-connected objects as needed.

The overall goal, Cerf said, is to “design a system that capitalizes on the strong authentication property to configure either closed or open systems to manage or access authenticated devices" on a massive scale.

But, he noted, "We should be very thoughtful right now about the fact that a lot of these devices are going to be part of our environment, and a lot of them are going to need to be managed.”