Linaro Forms Security Working Group

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Linaro has started a Working Group dedicated to the delivery of open source reference implementations of secure software on ARM® platforms

CAMBRIDGE, UK – 20 FEB 2014

Linaro Ltd, the not-for-profit engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM architecture, has formed the Linaro Security Working Group (SWG) to help ensure an optimised and efficient software ecosystem exists to support ARM open source Linux distributions on security related topics, and to accelerate the delivery of high quality secure products across the ARM open source ecosystem.

Over the last ten years, demand for secure devices in the mobile, home, and other spaces has been met by various advances in technology including ARM’s TrustZone® technology, a key feature of the 32-bit ARMv7 and the latest 32/64-bit ARMv8 Cortex®-A processors. These processors have provided SoC hardware security features, but to date there has been a limited availability of open source reference software that enables application writers to benefit from these features. As demand for secure software increases, the Linaro Security Working Group aims to reduce potential fragmentation.

In order to enable applications such as securely booting a server or decoding encrypted media, there needs to be a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). Linaro will be creating reference designs showing how normal and trusted application code and libraries can be integrated within a particular platform such as Android. Initial Linaro activities include the development of an open source reference implementation of the W3C Embedded Media Extension (EME) using platform security features for secure media playback on mobile and digital home devices; and an open source reference implementation of secure boot for the 64-bit ARM Cortex-A series processors to complement the ARM Trusted Firmware open source project, targeted at server applications. In addition there will be work on security features in the Linux kernel.

To ensure the broadest commercial choice and applicability for Linaro’s members, the SWG will ensure that the reference applications operate with a range of TEEs, such as open source implementations from Linaro member STMicroelectronics and NVIDIA Corporation, and commercial offerings from Trustonic.

By delivering tested reference open source software Linaro will enable SoC vendors, OEMs and application developers to more easily understand how to design and build secure applications across a wide range of ARM products and segments. These include the Internet of Things, mobile devices, the digital home and advanced multi-node hyperscale servers.

“As Linaro’s mandate has expanded beyond mobile to include servers, networking, and the digital home, and as we look forward to the Internet of Things, security is an essential component.” said David Rusling, Linaro CTO, “As security standards emerge it is important that Linaro’s members work together to create and enable interoperable open source solutions that enable the ARM architecture in these markets.”

“The importance of security in computing, especially personal computing, has been rapidly increasing.” said George Grey, Linaro CEO, “Vendors require a common security foundation on which they can build their own applications. With the Security Working Group, Linaro is in a unique position to provide key software reference solutions to important industry problems that work with the security foundations on ARM platforms. We look forward to helping do this with our members, efficiently and without fragmentation.”

Supporting Quotes

“The security working group is an essential initiative by Linaro as it should help the industry accelerate the release of innovative, security-enhanced, ARM-based products to market” said James McNiven, deputy general manager, systems and software, ARM. “Linaro has a proven track record of fuelling code collaboration across the ARM ecosystem. This announcement will build on ARM Trusted Firmware to provide an ideal reference and foundation for low level software on the latest ARM-based platforms.”

“STMicroelectronics is working closely with the Linaro Security Working Group to make its Trusted Execution Environment freely available for ARM TrustZone,” said Christophe Lorieau,  Director System, Software & Customer Support, Unified Platform Division, STMicroelectronics. “By working with Linaro we can ensure that the open-source implementation is ready to meet the needs of the wider ARM community and will encourage the use of TEE as part of the implementation for their security work on the ARM architecture. Such work will undoubtedly expand the range of secured applications for consumers within the home.”

“Security in personal computing is a vital concern for both the mobile industry and consumers,” said Hadi Nahari, Chief Security Architect, Tegra Software at NVIDIA. “We’re pleased to work with Linaro and the Security Working Group to bring a common open-source solution to market.”

“Trustonic is pleased to support Linaro in creating open reference solutions to some of the most common application security problems in modern mobile computing” said Jon Geater, CTO Trustonic. “By ensuring these reference implementations interoperate with Trustonic offerings we hope to benefit the whole ARM ecosystem.”
About Linaro

Linaro is the place where engineers from the world’s leading technology companies define the future of open source on ARM. The company is a not-for-profit engineering organization with over 200 engineers working on consolidating and optimizing open source software for the ARM architecture, including developer tools, the Linux kernel, ARM power management, and other software infrastructure. Linaro is distribution neutral: it wants to provide the best software foundations to everyone by working upstream, and to reduce non-differentiating and costly low level fragmentation. The effectiveness of the Linaro approach has been demonstrated by Linaro’s growing membership, and by Linaro consistently being listed as one of the top three company contributors to recent Linux kernels (LWN lists Linaro as the number 2 company contributor to kernels 3.12 and 3.13 and #3 to kernels 3.10 and 3.11: http://lwn.net/Articles/579081/http://lwn.net/Articles/570483/http://lwn.net/Articles/563977/http://lwn.net/Articles/555968/).

To ensure commercial quality software, Linaro’s work includes comprehensive test and validation on member hardware platforms. The full scope of Linaro’s engineering work is open to all online.

For more information on the company, access to software and tools, and information on the community and open engineering, visit www.linaro.org

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