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Trusted Software Development Using OP-TEE

This blog aims to introduce the concept of Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and how end users can leverage open source software to safely deploy applications that require handling confidential information.

Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) Overview

What is a TEE? What are the benefits of having a TEE?

TEE provides an isolated environment to ensure code/data integrity and confidentiality. Typical embedded systems running Linux or Android are exposed to a large number of security vulnerabilities in both the kernel and user space packages. Vulnerabilities can allow an attacker to gain access to sensitive information and/or insert malware. TEE adds an additional layer of security where code/data running on the TEE can not be accessed/tampered from the normal world OS (eg: Linux/Android). The software running on TEE (secure world) typically involves a tiny security oriented operating system (eg: OP-TEE OS) along with trusted applications. The trusted applications are meant to handle confidential information such as credit card PINs, private keys, customer data, DRM protected media, etc. and provide services to the normal world OS to make use of the confidential information without compromising it.

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Secure Boot and Encrypted Data Storage

What is secure boot?

Secure boot ensures only authenticated software runs on the device and is achieved by verifying digital signatures of the software prior to executing that code. To achieve secure boot, processor/SoC support is required. In our experience, some of the more secure boot friendly processors with readily available documentation are NXP i.MX, Xilinx Zynq, and Atmel SAMA5 series. Some TI Sitara processors support secure boot, but might involve TI factory programming of signing keys and custom part numbers.

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Securing Embedded Linux Devices

Embedded devices have unique security needs ranging from IP protection, anti-cloning / anti-counterfeit capability, device software integrity, user data protection, securing network communication, device authentication and ability to run only trusted applications. A wide range of open source technologies are available that can help implement the aforementioned security requirements. However, it is not always apparent which mechanisms are best suited for a given use case, resulting in a steep learning curve. This blog series aims to give a high-level overview of the different methods to secure your product and help accelerate your trusted software deployment.

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Software / Firmware Update Design Considerations

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly led to the deployment of ubiquitous, unattended devices throughout our homes, offices, factories and public spaces. In this continuously expanding connected world of devices and IoT, the need to update/upgrade your product’s software/firmware is a certainty. There is no single software update approach that fits all, but there are key questions you should consider when designing your approach. They are: Why, When, What and How.

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