At a time when the world lives and works more remotely than ever, endpoint security has come into focus. Predictably, the Venn diagram overlap of consumer electronics and enterprise security at CES 2022 contained endpoints, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, biometrics, and a PC chip security solution from an industry team-up involving Microsoft, AMD, and Lenovo.
Tuya Takes on IoT Security
Tuya, an IoT development platform provider that went public in March 2021, showed up to CES with multiple announcements showcasing the company's broad market reach.
On the consumer side, Tuya wiggled into gaming company Razer's RGB lighting system via its long-standing partnership with Monster. Tuya also announced support for the Matter smart home standard — a "commitment to ensure that Tuya's customers and business partners can seamlessly join in the new smart home connectivity standard," it said in a press release.
A trio of developer-focused announcements highlight the company's approach to solving the security issues that have always hung over IoT:
- Tuya Cube is a deployment solution designed to let developers create their own private IoT platforms. It's meant to be flexible and scalable to meet the varied needs of any vertical, such as real estate, retail, and telecommunications.
- The Tuya WBR3N IoT module has a built-in secure element (SE) for data encryption and decryption and physical security storage. It offers built-in root of trust (RoT), secure communication process and firmware verification, and multiple logical and physical protection layers.
- Tuya Sage is an IoT security platform that's designed to help IoT developers find and remove risks and ensure compliance. Tuya Sage offers a holistic view of devices and their security information and current risk status; the platform promises to give devs one-click risk interception.
Hummingbirds AI Intends to Stop Sneak-Peek Data Leaks
Hummingbirds AI wants to eliminate data leaks that come from people snooping over laptop users' shoulders.
The company calls its GuacamoleID software a "continuous video-based identity verification" (CVIV) platform. The application empowers a device's camera with biometrics to evaluate the faces of anyone in view. If it detects an unauthorized user, it blocks the screen's contents and sends a report to the device administrator. The administrator can annotate the alerts; for example, if an employee tried to show a co-worker something they're working on but that co-worker happens to not be an authorized user, it may trigger a report. The administrator, however, can note in the report that the co-worker is not a threat.
In a way, this is a solution to a decidedly pre-pandemic problem, as so many companies have shifted to full or partial remote workforces. And workers are spending less time in transit and travel than ever, so the vector for attack in places like coffee shops, taxis, and airports is lower. Yet the issue persists and will continue to persist to some degree, even as the pandemic wanes.
Microsoft's Pluton Coming to New Lenovo Laptops
Two of Lenovo's new laptops will come equipped with Microsoft's Pluton, a dedicated security chip.
Microsoft and its silicon partners AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm announced Pluton in late 2020. "This chip-to-cloud security technology, pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere, will bring even more security advancements to future Windows PCs and signals the beginning of a journey with ecosystem and OEM partners," read Microsoft's blog announcement at the time.
Microsoft et al. created Pluton to replace the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Used by Windows Hello and other security functions, the TPM creates and stores cryptographic keys and verifies that your OS and firmware haven't been tampered with. But given its importance, the TPM has become the target of cyberattacks over the years. Pluton is designed to obviate that attack surface by storing things like encryption keys, credentials, and user IDs on the chip itself, isolated from the system. Microsoft says that Pluton will keep this information out of the hands of attackers even if they have full physical possession of the computer.
Just over a year later, Pluton has emerged on AMD's Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors, which will power Lenovo's forthcoming ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 laptops. The laptops are in Lenovo's premium business line and will be available in May, starting at $1,549 (Z13) and $2,099 (Z16).
Though Pluton is now going to be on actual shipping products, the lack of adoption from Microsoft's many industry partners is notable. AMD merely listed Pluton as one of its 6000 series chips' many features, and a footnote in the chipmaker's press release said: "As of January 2022, only AMD Ryzen 6000 Series processors include the Microsoft Pluton security processor, while AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors and Intel's latest 11th and 12th Gen processors do not." Among PC makers, only Lenovo has products with Pluton on board — and only two models have it out of the company's many newly announced laptops.
In its blog post reinforcing the AMD and Lenovo news, Microsoft had little to add beyond a note at the end stating that, "Our OEM partners are leveraging platforms from silicon partners to begin offering customers Windows systems with Pluton enabled," and "Look for updates from Microsoft and our partners in the future around expanded hardware availability of Pluton."