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Cryptography is critical for securing data at rest or in transit over the IoT. But cryptography fails when a device uses weak keys, low-entropy randomness, or inaccurate time sources. Standard deterministic computers have trouble producing good randomness, especially IoT-class devices that have little opportunity to build entropy locally before they begin network communications. The best sources of true randomness are based on unpredictable physical phenomena, such as quantum effects, but they can be impractical to include in IoT devices.
We research novel Internet service architectures providing secure time and quantum entropy sources to IoT devices. Our research covers also the problem of trust on the Internet, which is particularly relevant for services of such fundamental importance.
We work on a service architecture that is designed to distribute and aggregate trust across a scalable collective of diverse participants, yielding a collective authority. By combining known cryptographic techniques in novel ways, this architecture will provide fresh timestamps and entropy to IoT devices on boot. The architecture will distribute trust across thousands of servers scattered around the world: scalable enough that every country’s government and every major technology company in the world could participate directly in the decentralized root of trust, each actively and independently ensuring that all others “stay honest.”