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Arm Cooks Up Recipe for IoT Security

November 7, 2017

Author: Mike Demler

To help thwart hacker attacks and improve consumer confidence in IoT, Arm is proposing a set of industrywide specifications it calls the Platform Security Architecture (PSA). The PSA aims to establish a common secure hardware-software framework for devices that use ARM-based processor cores. Taking advantage of its position as the industry’s largest supplier of processor intellectual property (IP), the company has garnered PSA endorsements throughout the IoT ecosystem, ranging from processor vendors to software and security developers, along with system manufacturers and cloud-service providers.

The PSA package comprises three components. The first gives customers a set of security analyses and threat models, which Arm developed by examining various IoT products that use its IP. The second component defines PSA hardware and software architectures, including a minimum Trusted Base System Architecture for ARMv8-M (TBSA-M) and a Firmware Framework (PSA-FF) designed to run atop TBSA-M-compliant designs.

Third, to ease implementation of PSA firmware requirements in Cortex-M-based microcontrollers, Arm is developing what it calls Trusted Firmware-M (TF-M). This reference firmware is available to lead partners now, and the company plans to release it as free open-source code in 1Q18.

The PSA mostly comprises a set of design guidelines and specifications, but to accelerate its adoption and ease implementation of PSA-compliant designs, the company is also offering two separately licensed IP products. The first is the TrustZone CryptoIsland-300, which enables designers to more easily integrate a hardware root of trust (RoT) into their processors. The second is the SDC-600, which adds an authentication layer to the JTAG debug port. Although its root-of-trust solution isn’t unique, Arm’s alignment with other companies that span the ecosystem will help make IoT more secure.

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