Corporate Research & Development Center

Toshiba and Landis+Gyr Make Proposal on IEEE 802.21d Standardization for Security of Multicast Communications


Toshiba Corporation and Landis+Gyr have jointly proposed to the IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) 802.21d Task Group a draft technical document for standardization of group key management systems and public key certificate management systems, and the sponsor voting for which has been completed. Once approved by the IEEE Standards Association, the proposal will be established in the form of standards and norms.

With the spread of the Internet of Things (IoT), devices are increasingly controlled via networks. Multicast communication offers a means for efficiently controlling huge numbers of devices, and a method for sending the same control information to many devices simultaneously. However, simultaneous control of many devices with the same control information raises the need for security enhancements, primarily protection of the control information. Security assurance has become an important issue for the IEEE 802.21 standard for switching between access points with different communication methods, as well as for the IEEE 802.21d standard, which expands the IEEE 802.21 standard to include multicast communication support.

Toshiba and Landis+Gyr's proposal towards ensuring the security of controlling multiple devices using multicast communications centers on using group keys and digital signatures for protection of device control information, as well as systems for management of group keys and digital signature certificates. This technology guarantees the authenticity of control information by concealing control information through group keys shared between multiple devices (grouped or in groups) and detecting fake control information by assigning digital signatures.

A core feature of the group key management system is that the key size required for group key distribution is fixed, even if the number of devices within the group increases. This allows the system to be used with devices with limited calculation resources. It also ensures secure and stable control even when the number of devices being managed changes significantly.

The proposed technology can be applied not only to control of "switching between access points", but also to various other controls such, as "failover" to avoid any effects from failure of peripheral devices, and "firmware updates". This significantly improves the security of systems using multicast communications, such as home networks and smart meter systems.

Going forward, Toshiba aims apply systems with IEEE 802.21d to various control systems that use multicast communication, and will proceed with further research and development.