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Advantages of Tokens
Why a token-based authentication solution is the right choice for IoT applications.
A token-based solution is in many ways the best choice for an IoT application as it simplifies lifecycle management, is scalable, improves security, and provides authorization.
The use of a token-based authentication solution simplifies all stages in the device life-cycle, from development until the end-of-life, due to its single dependency of a keypair that is generated and managed on the device itself. As a result, enables dynamic management of the device credentials when initially generate, updated during operation, and removed when the device reached its end-of-life state. Addressing all drawbacks of a certificate-based solution with regards to life-cycle management.
A token-based solution also significantly improves the security of any IoT application, as a result of dynamic credential management. This enables the option to regularly update the device credentials used to request access tokens from the identity provider (IdP). Reducing the time a potential attacker has to discover these credentials. In addition, the same is true for the access token issued by the IdP which also has an application-specific lifetime that should be as short as possible.
In a world full of APIs not only authentication is required but also authorization. This is also especially true for IoT applications. The goal of authorization in IoT applications is to make sure IoT devices can send their data only to the intended API, hence securing the integrity of the data within the IoT platform. OAuth 2.0 is the leading token-based authorization standard for API-based applications in the realm of IT. Adopting a token-based authentication solution, that is based on OAuth 2.0, for IoT applications, enables a straightforward, standardized integration between any IoT and IT application. Simplifying the adoption of the Zero Trust model.
A token-based authentication solution addresses several special requirements of IoT applications. Starting with the need to be highly scalable for thousands of devices. As there is no certificate authority involved in the creation or update process of the device credentials, a token-based authentication solution is highly scalable and automated.
Furthermore, a token-based authentication solution also supports IoT applications with regard to their constrained energy and computing resources. By eliminating the need to establish a resource-intensive mutual TLS connection to authenticate the IoT device. In contrast, a token-based solution only relies on a simple TLS connection for server authentication.
Finally, comparing tokens and certificates in regard to their size, tokens are as well better suited for IoT applications, due to their small size (~100 bytes) compared to certificates (~ 1000 bytes). As a result, tokens require less storage space and less energy when transmitted.