Microchip with Circuit Board
#Digital Infrastructures

Transparency in cybersecurity

3 Mins.

As hackers deploy increasingly sophisticated methods to access mobile devices, it’s crucial that these don’t fall vulnerable to attacks. This is where open source silicon and open source software come into play, providing the utmost transparency in software, devices and computer chips themselves.

Concerns about computer system security are why G+D Mobile Security has partnered, among others, with internet giant Google and UK-based hardware organization lowRISC to run a collaborative, open source secure chip design project.

The initiative, called OpenTitan, has been labeled the first open source silicon Root of Trust (RoT) project. The initiative builds on the success of Google’s own custom-built chip, Titan, which is also used in Android phones. First launched in November 2019, OpenTitan hopes to reach tape-out by the end of 2020.

By open sourcing the silicon design, the companies aim to make OpenTitan transparent, allowing anyone to inspect the design for security vulnerabilities and make proposals for improvements, where necessary.

“Our goal is to make a security chip transparent, meaning that it can be evaluated and viewed by everyone, and thus made equally trustworthy,” explains Claus Dietze, Senior Director Strategic Global Standardization at G+D.

“Our goal is to make a security chip transparent, meaning that it can be evaluated and viewed by everyone“
Claus Dietze
Senior Director Strategic Global Standardization at G+D

“OpenTitan can therefore be used as a trust anchor or RoT for a variety of devices, such as server motherboards, network cards, routers, and IoT end devices.”

Building a foundation of trust

What exactly is the Root of Trust? Basically, it’s a critical set of functions that, for example, a computer’s operating system always trusts.

System security starts and ends with RoT, which provides a solid foundation for all secure operations of a computing system. It provides cryptographic means, thereby guaranteeing that the operating system hasn’t been tampered with. And it actively monitors and controls the system boot-up process.

The RoT consists of a secure hardware running a secure operating system. It’s OpenTitan’s very transparency that is key, distinguishing it from other technology initiatives and existing RoT chips. Its broad spectrum usage also differs from Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which is limited to just one use case.

“G+D Mobile Security contributes with our security and security-certification expertise, and provides an innovative and highly secure operating system to equip mobile devices with a reliable RoT in order to holistically enable connectivity and end-to-end security,” adds Dietze.

“The operating system is already used worldwide by providers of premium devices and further developed by G+D Mobile Security for the endpoints of the industrial IoT.”

Published: 19/05/2020

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