IoT startup Afero goes end to end for security

The company will link devices with cloud services it provides

Internet of Things startup Afero says it can secure small and large IoT devices with a Bluetooth radio module and a cloud service.

Afero's platform is just the latest approach to building an infrastructure that ties together a variety of connected devices. The company says its system can be applied to both the home and enterprise realms of IoT and encrypts data all the way from devices to the cloud.

The Internet of Things is widely expected to blossom into billions of devices for consumers, cities and businesses in the next few years. Along with those connected objects in the field, software, networks and analytics will be critical components of IoT. Bringing all those components together may pose a steep challenge for consumer electronics makers, as well as for enterprises that want to reap benefits in efficiency, savings and profits.

Making these new systems secure is just as big a worry, with devices spread all over the world raising the specter of hacking just as high-profile cyber attacks -- some involving machine-to-machine networks -- raise privacy concerns.

Anyone shopping for connected things, either for homes or enterprises, is already faced with an alphabet soup of protocols and standards. Afero says it has a scalable end-to-end system that offers greater security than other platforms do.

At the heart of the company's platform is the Afero Cloud, which performs services like security and includes long-term data storage. Devices with the Afero ASR-1 Secure Radio Module, which uses the low-power Bluetooth Smart protocol, will connect to that cloud with encryption end to end. Other types of IoT devices can communicate with Afero-powered products through cloud-to-cloud integration, but without the same security, the company says.

For security, Afero looked to the larger world of digital security for best practices. For each session, the device and the cloud service both are authenticated using an elliptic-curve key exchange, usually with 256-bit key pairs.

Murata Manufacturing, which supplies hardware to Apple and Samsung and is known for its robots, has the exclusive right to make the ASR-1 radio module. Vendors can build products for the Afero platform using the company's development tool. Some manufacturers have already started to do so. They include Bandai, a toy and game vendor, and Infocom, a health care IT and operations company. Products should start to hit the market next year, Afero says.

Based in Los Altos, California, the company says it's brought together veterans from Apple, Google, Nest, Microsoft and other big names. It also claims mobile technology giant Qualcomm as a partner.

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