How to protect IoT devices

To meet the challenges of operating in an ever-changing and connected world, security needs to be built into every device, from the ground up. The ground-breaking Platform Security Architecture (PSA) is a framework developed by Arm that brings together industry best practice and enables designers, developers and manufacturers to build more secure devices.

Is your IoT security at risk?

Companies and organizations are building their vital infrastructure and customer service around the data and insight received from millions of connected devices. But, Arm asks, are we doing enough to protect these devices?

This year, more Internet of Things (IoT) devices will ship than ever before.

This increased connectivity will transform our homes, businesses and entire cities but as companies race to seize the opportunities the IoT brings they may, inadvertently, be putting us all at risk. In our fast-paced and cost-sensitive environment, security is not always a priority and poorly designed products are open to attack.

To minimize the risk of exploitation Arm has introduced the Platform Security Architecture (PSA). It is a framework that brings together industry best practice and enables designers, developers and manufacturers to build more secure devices.

Secure by design

The Arm PSA simplifies and standardizes IoT security. It makes it quicker, easier and more affordable to design the right level of protection into a connected device.

There are three key components and each is underpinned by a set of technical resources that make security straightforward, even if you do not have access to dedicated expertise.

1. Analyse

Assess potential risks and identify the right level of security for different IoT devices and use cases.

2. Architect

Hardware and firmware architecture specifications that cover the core set of security principles, as identified in the security analyses.

3. Implement

Security technologies and silicon IP to help designers build more secure devices.

Since its introduction just over a year ago, PSA has gained significant momentum. It is now widely recognized and many of Arm’s partners are working with the framework. Key developments include:

Threat models and security analyses

The first stage of PSA involves analyzing the operating environment and understanding and documenting the ways a device could be attacked. It is a process known as threat modeling and security analysis (TMSA) and it helps to determine how robust security measures need to be. TMSA has been used in the mobile industry for some time. In that setting, the output is usually referred to as an English Language Protection Profile. However, it will be new to many IoT designers.Arm has released example threat models for three common IoT devices: a smart water meter, a network camera and an asset tracker. The freely available documents guide designers through the entire TMSA process and can be applied to any device.

Hardware and firmware architect specifications

Four important documents now bringing PSA to life:

-The PSA Security Model: outlines important details for deploying secure services, starting with 10 key goals for designing devices with known security properties

-Technical requirements for firmware boot and update

-Trusted Base System Architecture for M (TBSA-M): detailed hardware requirements for Arm based systems

-PSA Firmware Framework: a standard programming environment and fundamental Root of Trust (RoT) security services

Firmware source code

Arm is also making secure software development simpler, quicker and less costly with Trusted Firmware-M. It is a completely open-source reference implementation firmware that meets the PSA specifications. Trusted Firmware-M has been created for the latest Armv8-M based microcontrollers, but also includes recommendations for processors based on earlier versions of the Arm architecture.

For a consistent developer experience, new PSA Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and API compliance test kits have now been created for different developer communities.

-PSA Developer APIs for Real Time Operating System vendors and software developers

-PSA Firmware Framework APIs for security experts implementing custom security functions

-TBSA-M test kits designed for chip designers (which checks the hardware implementation against the PSA TBSA-M specification).

The Developer and Firmware Framework APIs, corresponding API testing kits and the PSA architecture documents that underpin them are architecture agnostic. PSA is about fundamentals that can be applied to any architecture, not just Arm’s.

Securing the next one trillion connected devices

Over the past 12 months Arm has worked closely with its partners to create a common security framework for the IoT ecosystem. Leading cloud, hardware and silicon providers have endorsed or supported the PSA and the principles it is based on.

For more information