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Strong ARM scoops up Sansa to boost IoT security

Chipmaker adds Israeli company's bolt-on protection to its bulging armoured sack

Chipmaker ARM has sealed a deal to buy Israeli Internet of Things (IoT) security specialist Sansa Security. Financial terms of the deal, announced Thursday, were not officially disclosed. However, the WSJ previously reported that around $75m-$85m was on the table.

ARM makes the chips that power the majority of the world’s smartphones. The Sansa acquisition will allow it to add hardware and software-based security features, boosting protection for sensitive data and content on any connected device.

Sansa's technology is already deployed across a range of smart connected devices and enterprise systems. The company was previously known as Discretix, prior to rebranding last October, and specialised in embedded security technologies.

The deal complements the ARM security portfolio, including ARM TrustZone technology and SecurCore processor IP.

"Any connected device could be a target for a malicious attack, so we must embed security at every potential attack point," said Mike Muller, CTO of ARM in a statement. "Protection against hackers works best when it is multi-layered, so we are extending our security technology capability into hardware subsystems and trusted software. This means our partners will be able to license a comprehensive security suite from a single source."

Sansa offers a complete hardware subsystem designed to isolate security sensitive operations from the main application processor. Its IoT security platform has a mobile component and a capability to work across cloud-based systems.

Given the well-documented security issues of IoT devices, ARM and Sansa are sowing seeds on fertile ground. However, the Register security desk would add that the vast majority of security shortcomings so far identified in IoT devices involve things like weak crypto, default credentials shared across a range of devices and poor authentication. These are basic mistakes and bolting security on as an afterthought is far from the best approach.

That said, there’s certainly a market for technologies which enable security and interconnection of IoT, a market Sansa’s technology is well positioned to address.

ARM and Sansa both joined the Thread Group, an industry group promoting Thread – a low-power, wireless mesh networking protocol designed to easily and securely connect hundreds of devices in the home – last December. Other members include Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs and Freescale. ®

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