WP_Term Object
(
    [term_id] => 16940
    [name] => eMemory
    [slug] => ememory
    [term_group] => 0
    [term_taxonomy_id] => 16940
    [taxonomy] => category
    [description] => 
    [parent] => 178
    [count] => 5
    [filter] => raw
    [cat_ID] => 16940
    [category_count] => 5
    [category_description] => 
    [cat_name] => eMemory
    [category_nicename] => ememory
    [category_parent] => 178
)
            
eMemory Logos Yellow 1
WP_Term Object
(
    [term_id] => 16940
    [name] => eMemory
    [slug] => ememory
    [term_group] => 0
    [term_taxonomy_id] => 16940
    [taxonomy] => category
    [description] => 
    [parent] => 178
    [count] => 5
    [filter] => raw
    [cat_ID] => 16940
    [category_count] => 5
    [category_description] => 
    [cat_name] => eMemory
    [category_nicename] => ememory
    [category_parent] => 178
)

Securing Applications: A PUFiot Solution for RISC-V-based IoT Devices

Securing Applications: A PUFiot Solution for RISC-V-based IoT Devices
by Kalar Rajendiran on 09-27-2021 at 6:00 am

In June 2021, eMemory Technology hosted a webinar titled “PUFiot: A PUFrt-based Secure Coprocessor.” You can read a blog leading up to that webinar here. PUFiot is a novel high-security crypto coprocessor. You can access a recording of that entire webinar from eMemory’s Resources page. While the focus of that webinar was to present the details of PUFiot and the underlying PUF technology and PUF-based Hardware Root of Trust, it did have one slide showing the different use cases for the coprocessor. Refer to the figure below.

PUFiot Supporting Secure Applications

The webinar stated that the PUFiot Coprocessor can be used in Arm-based systems and RISC-V-based systems to secure applications but did not go into detail. Therefore, I want to pick up from there and blog about how the PUFiot Coprocessor can be utilized to secure applications. This blog is based on a whitepaper published by PUF Security Inc. The proof point is in the form of a successful demo by Andes Technology.

Incidentally, eMemory Technology will be hosting a webinar next week on the topic of securing supply chains. Secure supply chain management is another use case for the PUFiot secure coprocessor. The webinar is titled “PUFiot: The PUF-based Hardware Root-of-Trust for Secure Supply Chains” and is scheduled for September 29th, 2021 (EMEA time zones)/September 28th (Americas time zones). You can register for this webinar here.

Ever Increasing Risk to Applications

According to AV-TEST Institute, the number of malware programs climbed from around 65 million in 2011 to 1.1 billion by the end of 2020. The AV-TEST Institute is an independent research institute for IT security monitoring and reporting. The threat level is expected to grow significantly with the rate of adoption of IoT devices.

IoT devices are set to take over the world. They are used in applications ranging from autonomous vehicles to remote weather stations. If these applications can be breached, imagine the damage that can happen. Companies must be prepared to deal with this increased vulnerability by securing their applications.

What is Needed to Tightly Secure Applications?

Ensuring the security of applications requires the following six things as identified in the whitepaper. See below.

  1. Trusted Execution Environment (TEE): Isolates codes, data, and memory that require a higher security level.
  2. Root of Trust: Safeguard crucial security parameters; comprises unique ID, certificates, secret keys, and secure storage.
  3. Secure Boot: Blocks unauthorized OS and applications from running.
  4. Data at Rest Security: Stores data in an encrypted/obfuscated form with solid access control to prevent leakage.
  5. Data in Transit Security: Utilizes keys to encrypt data before transmission to prevent interception.
  6. Secure OTA Update: Ensures that firmware or software updates in the field come as encrypted ciphertext and that no downgrading is allowed.

The main processor/CPU of the application cannot accomplish all of the above by itself. The Root of Trust is more securely implemented at the hardware level, using an inborn PUF. The key storage unit and the execution environment need to be tamper-proof. The cryptographic algorithms are also more efficiently implemented in hardware.

In essence, a Secure Coprocessor that includes a Hardware Root of Trust and anti-tampering features is needed to support the CPU in securing applications.

Benefits of Using a Secure Coprocessor for Securing Applications

A fully secure hardware-accelerated coprocessor will offload the security-related tasks away from the CPU, allowing the main processor to perform its primary functions safely and efficiently. This approach simplifies the system design and enhances the overall performance of the application. An ideal coprocessor will be a plug-and-play security solution to allow easy implementation of key security features.

PUFiot – A Drop-in Solution for RISC-V-based IoT Systems

RISC-V architecture is gaining significant adoption among IoT devices for the processor of choice to handle the enormous amount of data and associated transactions. A major reason for this is RISC-V’s open architecture and relatively low cost. But the security guidelines for RISC-V based systems are still under development.

As security guidelines continue to evolve, choosing a compatible solution that calls for the least amount of disruption to the system and the application is a wise choice. PUFiot coprocessor is such a drop-in solution. Refer to the figure below for the design architecture of the PUFiot Coprocessor.

PUFiot Coprocessor Design Architecture

PUFiot Design Architecture

PUFiot’s secure boundary is based on physical separation of hardware, therefore establishing a sound Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). At the heart of PUFiot is a Hardware Root-of-Trust design. This encompasses eMemory’s patented NeoPUF, providing each chip with a unique chip fingerprint (UID) and offers Riscure certified anti-tampering secure OTP for key storage, preventing physical/electrical attacks on crucial security parameters. The Hardware Root of Trust also comes with a True Random Number Generator (TRNG), a source of dynamic entropies to secure cryptographic engines and communications between systems. For complete details of all of the built-in features and functionality, refer to the PUFiot product page.

Securing Applications on a RISC-V based system

With the security guidelines for RISC-V based systems still evolving and the ecosystem still maturing, systems developers have to either implement the security solution themselves or adopt a trustworthy solution from a partner. Choosing the in-house development path will throw its own challenges along the way. For example, does the solution provide a solid secure boundary (meaning comprehensive Hardware Root of Trust), support all major crypto algorithms, and obtain 3rd party security certifications, etc. Security is a global issue, and certifications need to satisfy international requirements, rules, and regulations. PUFiot coprocessor has all of these aspects covered. Refer to the figure below for a block diagram of a RISC-V SoC design incorporating  PUFiot coprocessor to secure applications.

A RISC-V SoC Incorporating PUFiot Coprocessor

RISC V SoC Incorporating PUFiot

A potential threat to an IoT device comes in the form of a malicious chip added to the system in place of the genuine chip holding the firmware. A PUFiot implementation ensures that attempted breaches can be stopped right at boot time. Any attempted tampering to switch security key information is stopped right at boot time by verifying chip pairing. Refer to Andes Technology demo below.

Andes Technology’s Secure Boot Demo

Andes Technology is a leading supplier of high-efficiency, low-power 32/64-bit RISC-V processor cores and a Founding Premier member of RISC-V International. It demonstrated the effectiveness of the PUFiot coprocessor in securing applications.

A secure boot process involves checking and authenticating application firmware before executing the boot-up process. Andes setup two FPGAs (A and B) for the demo. A’s firmware was encrypted and stored in flash memory corresponding to A. Similarly, B’s firmware was encrypted and stored in flash memory corresponding to B. Each PUFiot comes with its unique inborn private key, what is stored in the respective flash memories is encrypted differently. As a result, the systems will only boot with the correct chip pairing. Any attempt to boot the systems with non-matching flash memories will fail, as the decryption will not be successful without the valid key. Andes demonstrated that the systems booted successfully with the correct chips-pairing but could not boot when the flash memories were swapped.

Summary

The PUFiot secure coprocessor can easily be dropped into RISC-V-based systems to secure IoT applications. PUFiot enables Zero Touch Deployment needed in the world of IoT. With built-in hardware-accelerated security functions and access controls, PUFiot also meets the requirements of Zero Trust Security in cloud applications.  You can access the whitepaper titled “An Essential Security Coprocessor for RISC-V Designs” from here. PUFiot is available for free evaluation for users who would like to try the IP. Please visit https://www.pufsecurity.com/ip-go.

To learn how to utilize the PUFiot Secure Coprocessor in yet another use case, you would want to want to register for an upcoming webinar. The webinar is titled “PUFiot: The PUF-based Hardware Root-of-Trust for Secure Supply Chains” and is scheduled for September 29th, 2021 (EMEA time zones)/September 28th (Americas time zones).

Share this post via:

Comments

There are no comments yet.

You must register or log in to view/post comments.