WISeKey, ON Semi, and Tatwah Team Up for “World’s First Secure IoT Beacon Device”

November 29, 2019 by Gary Elinoff

The three companies ally their unique capabilities to build a new network security system.

WISeKey, ON Semiconductor, and Tatwah have collaborated to produce what they describe as “the world’s first secure IoT beacon device.”


secure IoT beacon device

The Secure IoT Beacon features two WISeKey "tamper-resistant" MCUs that allow On Semi's RSL10 SoC to securely store digital certificates. Image from Tatwah

The IoT beacon device was introduced this week at TRUSTECH 2019, an international event dedicated to payments, identification and security, held in Cannes, France.


What are IoT Beacons?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of devices that communicate over wireless or wired networks, exchanging information. IoT beacons can be used to interconnect remote sensors, often through BLE radio devices.

IoT beacons are BLE, battery-powered sensors that can, for example, detect the temperature in a frozen food shelf, motion in a room, or device proximity when a person using a retailer's mobile app has entered a store perimeter.


The Need for Security

Often, sensitive information is communicated over IoT beacons.

When compromised, an unsecured IoT beacon can be subverted into a virtual Trojan horse, providing a gateway to customer information, such as social security numbers.

IoT beacons can be used to transfer information in both directions.


Illustration of potential cyberattacks through IoT beacons.

Illustration of potential cyberattacks through IoT beacons. Image from WISeKey

In the frozen food shelf example, a user can read the temperature over the IoT, but if left unsecured, an unauthorized user can change the temperature in the food shelf.

While this example doesn't bear heavy consequences, the security of IoT beacons becomes essential in many applications, like those used in power plants.

Partner Contributions to the Secure IoT Beacon

ON Semiconductor

The RSL10 Transceiver

The IoT security beacon employs ON Semiconductor’s 2.4GHz Bluetooth 5 transceiver, the RSL10.

This system on a chip (SoC) incorporates an ArmR CortexR-M3 with an LPDSP32 DSP core. ON Semiconductor claims that it consumes the lowest standby and active power currently available.

The new device also uses the RSL10 Sensor Development Kit, a package released earlier this year, that offers ultra-low-power Bluetooth radio.


Block diagram of RSL10.

Block diagram of RSL10. Image from ON Semiconductor

ON Semiconductor’s Bruno Damien explains that “Security is a crucial aspect for a number of IoT beacon-based applications, including asset tracking, identification, and micropayments. We are pleased to see our RSL10 SIP used to develop the first secure Bluetooth low-energy beacon."



Root of Trust 

The WISeKey-OISTE Root of Trust is designed to be recognized by operating systems and applications alike to ensure the confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of online transactions.

WISeKey’s public key infrastructure (PKI) allows for the issuance of trusted digital identities for people, machines, and objects that are mandatory for secure identity management.


VaultIC405 and VaultIC407 MCUs

The VaultIC405 and VaultIC407 from WISeKey are microcontrollers (MCUs) that enable the RSL10 to safely store digital certificates.

These certificates allow the Secure IoT Beacon to process the cryptographic algorithms that protect sensitive data from hackers.


Software and hardware architecture of the VaultIC405 and VaultIC407.

Software and hardware architecture of the VaultIC405 and VaultIC407. Image from WISeKey

The MCUs provide FIPS 140-2 level 3 security mechanisms and a Common Criteria (CC) EAL5+ platform for sensor data integrity, secure asset tracking, and product authentication.


The Joint Effort for Security

Egon Konopitzky, Tatwah’s senior executive vice president, noted that the partnership of Tatwah, ON Semiconductor, and WISeKey "enables customers to implement new, truly and highly secure Bluetooth Low Energy technology for mature and emerging market segments.”

Another leader in the partnership, Carlos Moreno, WISeKey’s VP of corporate alliances, noted that “We are proud to partner together with market leaders such as ON Semiconductor and Tatwah combining cutting-edge technologies and expertise to support the market's requirements and aggregating this innovative secure IoT beacon to our portfolio.” 


The Device May Buoy Each Partner

Internet security is one of the most pressing issues of the day, and nowhere is vulnerability greater than over the wireless internet.

The fact that ON Semiconductor’s RSL10 was chosen to be the wireless transceiver for this, “the world’s first Secure IoT Beacon device,” may give the company a leg up in the competitive wireless hardware arena.

WISeKey’s cryptographic Root of Trust stands to experience more exposure due to its deployment by ON Semiconductor. It's likely, too, that Tatwah’s RFID systems will become a more prominent cybersecurity presence as well.