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prpl Security Group & Imperas Address IoT Security Challenges via Multi-Domain Virtualization

As a founding member of the Security Working Group of the prpl Foundation, Imperas is supporting the definition of a new open security framework for deploying secured and authenticated virtualized services in the Internet of Things (IoT) and related emerging markets.

Recent news shows that security is a key challenge to the wide scope and deployment of IoT, with varied consequences across many IoT markets. Imagine automotive hijacking. Power grid failure. Financial security breaches. Health care hacking. Consequences are severe: successful security measures in the IoT ecosystem will accelerate the explosion of its many markets while poorly implemented security will be a significant impediment to growth of IoT usage.

Figure 1.  Vehicle software hacked remotely From Channel 7 ABC News.

Figure 1.  Vehicle software hacked remotely From Channel 7 ABC News.

A few examples from the news:

1.   Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It

2.   Volvo recalls 59,000 cars over software fault

3.   Nasdaq Confirms Servers Breached

4.   Top 5 security threats in healthcare

5.   Security increasingly critical as IoT blurs lines between enterprise and embedded

6.   Researchers Hacked a Model S, But Tesla’s Already Released a Patch

7.   How to Hack the Power Grid Through Home Air Conditioners

8.   How the Internet of Things Got Hacked

9.   Fiat Chrysler recalling 1.4 million vehicles for software upgrade to prevent hacking

Based on the critical nature of security to IoT, the prpl Foundation created its prpl Engineering Group (PEG) focused on security. The prpl Security PEG is defining an open software security framework and methodology for secured and authenticated virtualized services, creating collaboration across the industry and accelerating the security of embedded software programs across a variety of markets.   

The Security PEG brings together industry, individual consultants, and developers worldwide, with unique perspectives on the many facets of security, allowing for cross-functional collaboration. A universal standard framework for enhanced security will strengthen the security of platforms: reducing risk, accelerating business growth, and enhancing consumer value.

The new Security PEG is defining a security roadmap to get from today's software-virtualized solutions to full hardware supported virtualization, enabling multi-domain security across processors, heterogeneous SoCs and systems built on these technologies including connected devices, routers and hubs. The Security PEG will also define necessary open APIs for various levels of the secure software stack so developers can innovate solutions more efficiently.

As a provider of tools for embedded software development, Imperas' perspective and added value to the collaborative PEG is in the tools for developing, testing, and demonstrating the secure software stack.  Imperas is cooperating with the embedded software providers in the PEG to build Extendable Platform Kits (EPKs) to accelerate development of the individual elements of the secure stack, and enable the easy analysis and verification of these elements in isolation as well as integrated into the complete stack. 

The first product of this collaboration is an Extendable Platform Kit (EPK) using an Imperas Open Virtual Platforms (OVP) virtual platform based on the OVP model of the MIPS M5150 CPU, with SELTECH's FEXER OX hypervisor and the Toppers (Tron) real time operating system (RTOS) as three individual guest operating systems (see Figure 2 below).  EPKs are designed to help users accelerate embedded software development, debug and test.  The platform and peripheral models included in the EPKs are open source, so that users can easily add new models to the platform as well as modify the existing peripheral models.  

Figure 2.  Imperas-SELTECH Extendable Platform Kit (EPK) for IoT security development

Figure 2.  Imperas-SELTECH Extendable Platform Kit (EPK) for IoT security development

The FEXER OX hypervisor takes advantage of the hardware virtualization features in the MIPS Warrior CPUs from Imagination Technologies to enable a high-performance, low overhead virtualized environment for embedded systems.  Imperas and SELTECH are also collaborating on adding tools to the Imperas virtual platform based software development tools to enhance the bring up and debug of guest operating systems and bare metal applications in the FEXER OX virtual machines. 

Imperas is expecting to be able to announce results from other collaborations with PEG members in the next few months.  

3 comments on “prpl Security Group & Imperas Address IoT Security Challenges via Multi-Domain Virtualization

  1. bradprat
    June 24, 2017

    Very interesting article, thank you.

  2. bradprat
    August 22, 2017

    Quite informative, never thought about it.

  3. JoachimBlatter
    May 22, 2019

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