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CES 2015: PubNub Brings Secure Communication to Atmel IoT Products

January 08, 2015

While the Internet of Things (IoT) has been occupying a lot of thought time in the minds of many businesses, as well as the minds of some individuals considering a smarter home, one concern has often come back to plague these forward thinkers: security. The IoT has plenty of room for connectivity, allowing a variety of devices to connect to and be controlled from a central hub. But with all those points of connectivity come a variety of points from which hackers can stage incursions into the system, and that's why new services like PubNub's recent work with Atmel will likely prove welcome.

While at CES 2015, PubNub offered up the announcement that it will be working with Atmel in a bid to bring software development kit (SDK) support to Atmel's line of products, including its microcontroller unit (MCU), its microprocessor unit (MPU) and its wireless system on a chip (SoC) platforms. As a result, those developing with Atmel products will now have access to the Publish / Subscribe messaging system that PubNub offers, which itself boasts some impressive features, like quarter-second latencies across 14 points-of-presence.

By putting PubNub to work, developers can count on secure communication on a variety of fronts, including communications through proxy servers, through firewalls, and even on mobile networks, thanks to PubNub's effective elimination of open ports on IoT devices. That allows several key features to be brought into operation, ranging from firmware updates and device provisioning to the always-popular remote control of devices, a development that most users can get behind.

Those interested in seeing just what the PubNub / Atmel partnership is capable of will be able to do so at the Connected Home demo currently running through CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The demo boasts an MCU system that runs on the PubNub network, which can receive and send signals from a mobile phone or similar device. But with the PubNub network's extremely low latency, the systems could be controlled from nearly anywhere on Earth.

Reza Kazerounian, who serves as Atmel's senior vice president and general manager of the microcontroller business unit, offered up some comment around the new partnership, saying “PubNub's realtime global data stream network combined with our embedded solutions helps IoT developers reduce time-to-market and solve the challenges of reliable IoT deployments. By removing complexity and focusing on developer-centric tools and services, PubNub shares Atmel's philosophy of driving competitive advantage for our customers.”

Security has always been a major part—and a major problem—when it comes to IoT development, simply because the number of potential points of failure has been so significantly enhanced. With more points of potential failure comes a greater overall likelihood of failure, and here, failure can mean hackers running amok in a system, stealing information, or just sabotaging systems. That can mean huge losses, so the IoT—while often viewed as a great source of revenue and operational improvement—is also viewed as something of a danger. Better security, meanwhile, helps keep such problems at bay, and allows users to focus on the substantial rewards of use, and that's just what PubNub and Atmel are looking to do here.

Only time will tell just how well it works, of course; this solution has to get out in the field first. But it's likely to end pretty well indeed if it can fend off attacks and make the IoT a useful part of our lives.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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