Although the TV series “Mr. Robot” is a work of fiction, it does an excellent job of showing how a poorly-secured smart thermostat, lighting controller, or other seemingly-harmless networked device can serve as a beachhead for a malicious cyber-attack. Until recently however, hardening IoT-enabled products was a relatively complex task, requiring the integration of several devices and several different pieces of firmware. To simplify this task, Texas Instruments has introduced the TM4C Crypto Connected LaunchPad development kit.
Don't mistake this kit for a stand-alone security board – it's a powerful embedded system which also happens to be equipped with an arsenal of cyber-security capabilities. The low-cost TM4C Crypto Connected LaunchPad development kit is equipped with a TI TM4C129ENCPDT microcontroller which boasts a 120-MHz ARM Cortex-M4F core (with floating point) and a compliment of hardware security accelerators. The MCU's hardware security functions include Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Data Encryption Standard (DES), Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA), and Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) accelerators. It also includes a library of security functions from WolfSSL which utilizes these crypto hardware accelerators to allow a secure SSL/TLS connection with the cloud server.
This hybrid approach provides the performance and ease-of-integration needed to quickly develop hardened IoT gateways or nodes, factory control and automation systems, grid infrastructure, alternative energy, and other applications requiring a secure cloud connection.
The TM4C is also equipped with other embedded essentials, including:
- 1MB Flash, 256KB SRAM, 6KB EEPROM
- An integrated 10/100 Ethernet MAC+PHY
- 8x 32-bit timers
- Dual 12-bit 2MSPS ADCs, motion control PWMs
- USB H/D/O, and many additional serial communication interfaces
- Dual, stackable BoosterPack XL connection sites
- An on-board, in-circuit debug interface (ICDI)
- A comprehensive suite of software tools, including TivaWare, and a TI-RTOS-based out-of-box demo for a secure IoT cloud connection
If Wi-Fi connectivity is desired, it can be easily added by using one of the board's BoosterPack XL connection sites to attach TI's SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3100 BoosterPack.