We may still be years away from totally smart homes and cities, but a set of research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Intel may demonstrate the best ways to secure the Internet of Things (IoT).

Threat Post reported that Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania will receive $6 million in grant money for IoT security research to ensure data is protected regardless of the everyday objects transmitting it. The four principles underlying the Stanford project include the use of encryption, a software-defined hardware design, the way applications are built and an embedded gateway cloud that governs how devices communicate with the Internet. Research at the University of Pennsylvania will specifically focus on medical and in-car IoT scenarios to detect and recover data.

Many organizations are already looking at how to build safeguards into the various devices making their way into smart homes and other environments. However, CMSWire called the public-private partnership between Intel and the NSF a “new model of cooperation.” No matter the results of the research projects, the funding announcements may put the criticality of IoT security higher on the tech industry’s list of priorities.

Intel is funding research while actively tracking the growing risks. According to ITProPortal, the company’s McAfee Labs division recently released its latest threats report. Though the study showed an overall rise in malware and breaches within cloud-based software systems, McAfee also said cybercriminals began to actively attack IoT devices.

Fortunately, some of the brightest minds in academia will now be working to help organizations quickly recover from IoT attacks and avoid the biggest threats. As noted by The Register, the NSF gave money to Penn State University to secure self-driving or autonomous vehicles and granted money to two universities in Missouri and Massachusetts for studying smart homes and secure algorithms. Is it possible to out-think hackers in a lab environment? Only time will tell as these funded research projects attempt to answer this question. Fending off the worst of these attacks may open a path closer to the things in the real world that make up the Internet of Things.

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