How to Make Your Embedded Product Secure

How to Make Your Embedded Product Secure

Comprehensive Approach to Embedded Security

Discussions around embedded security typically focus on risks incurred after a device is deployed in the field. Those discussions are valid, but security issues typically start much earlier in the product lifecycle. No matter what sort of device you are investing in it is increasingly important to pay attention to security from the start.  For example; some reports state that nearly half of embedded projects do not encrypt their firmware. This is compounded by not having secure boot processes or leaving key credentials (when they exist) unprotected. This leads to more risks incurred during manufacturing where firmware theft is commonplace leading unauthorized cloning and in turn loss of revenue, competitiveness and intrinsic business value.   It also leads to connected products or devices that are defenseless to cyber-attacks focused on IoT devices such as cameras, listening devices, embedded computers, gateways, washing machines, refrigerators or smart TVs.  In fact, almost any modern appliance will contain Internet connected embedded processors and therefore should carry an automatic requirement of embedded security.

 

While techniques to avoid these sorts of problems have existed for many years, few device developers make use of them.  Why?  Well a common reason is that the developers are unaware of the capabilities of modern SoC devices to protect their intellectual property, related to this is the fact that even if they are aware of the security features on the devices they don’t have the time or experience to implement the feature in their systems.  The good news is that there are now companies who have the expertise and are offering solutions to help device developers quickly implement trusted and encrypted firmware to both protect the intellectual property of the product developer, but also to secure the data and communications of the users of the device.

Sequitur Lab’s is a leading example of a company that has made it its mission to secure embedded systems.  Sequitur’s EmSPARK Security Suite is a product that addresses this multi-faceted problem head-on with a solution that automates the deployment of a security platform and delivers an abstraction to help simplify making use of the Trust Architecture components included on all NXP processors.

EmSPARK Suite Features

The Suite establishes a security platform including

  • Extended secure boot processes beyond initial ROM boot to validating and launching a signed copy of the Rich OS (Linux, VxWorks, Etc.).
  • Implementing security critical services such as initializing a secure enclave to enable trusted execution.
  • Trusted ID bound to a hardware root of trust.
  • Secure firmware update process
  • Essential key and certificate management services
  • Firmware preparation for volume manufacturing

 

Benefits

Customers committed to the Layerscape and or i.MX platforms can standardize on a security approach for a broad variety of device types without having to invest time and effort in becoming security experts on each platform.  Sequitur’s EmSPARK Security Suite simplifies developers lives in two ways – (1) the packaged, preconfigured set of security functions eliminates the need to build these from scratch and (2) the included Linux APIs that allows them to rapidly make use of the security functions and capabilities.

Security at Scale

Implementing device security is one challenge but provisioning devices during manufacturing with the security platform and relevant customer secrets (keys and certificates) is an equally big challenge. Without the right tools and processes, product developers risk losing control over their intellectual property and incur loss of revenue through piracy. EmSPARK provides tools and processes for firmware preparation that makes it possible to manufacture devices in untrusted facilities without risking theft of firmware or unauthorized manufacturing of devices.

Sequitur will work closely with companies and their manufacturing partners to ensure secure device provisioning within existing manufacturing workflows.

Sequitur Labs, recently announced the general availability of EmSPARK Security Suite for NXP’s Layerscape and i.MX line of microprocessors. NXP’s Trust Architecture brings comprehensive hardware security capabilities for building secure products. Trust Architecture brings hardware crypto acceleration, secure key store, secure isolated domain aka ARM® TrustZone processor security technology among other features as essential underpinnings for securing IoT driven digital transformation.

Sequitur’s EmSPARK Suite extends NXP’s Trust Architecture into the application runtime while dramatically reducing the cost and effort required to do so. EmSPARK achieves this while maintaining the uniqueness of each processor’s security features, meaning that the EmSPARK Suite is preconfigured to take advantage of hardware security features of Trust Architecture for each processor family and variants within a family.

If you are developing with NXP Layerscape or i.MX application processors and were wondering what you can to do build a more secure device, please consider connecting with Sequitur Labs (www.sequiturlabs.com).  They will open your eyes to both the necessity of using the trust capabilities of the NXP processors but also how easy it can be with the help of an expert partner.

Sam Fuller
Sam Fuller
Sam Fuller is the Head of System Solutions for the Digital Networking group. Sam has over 20 years of executive leadership experience in computer architecture, SoC architecture, embedded systems and semiconductor marketing and applications, and has lead innovative development efforts in SIMD processing, fabric interconnects and symmetric multicore processing. He holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from Brigham Young University and an MBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

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