Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

11/5/2019
03:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Google Launches OpenTitan Project to Open Source Chip Security

OpenTitan is an open source collaboration among Google and technology companies to strengthen root-of-trust chip design.

Google is teaming up with tech industry partners to launch OpenTitan, an open source project to strengthen chip security. The initiative will build reference design and integration guidelines for root-of-trust (RoT) silicon chips to be implemented in data center servers, storage devices, peripherals, and other technologies.

The goal is to give chipmakers and platform providers the ability to inspect and contribute to the design, firmware, and documentation of silicon chips. By open-sourcing the chip design, members of OpenTitan hope to make the process more transparent and secure. RoT chips can be used in server motherboards, network cards, laptops, phones, routers, and Internet of Things devices.

Google has already built a secure chip in Titan, its custom RoT chip designed to make sure the machines in its data centers boot from a known trustworthy state with verified code. Titan is used in Google's multifactor security keys and its Google-brand Android phones. OpenTitan brings secure silicon chip design to a broader level with a group of tech industry partners.

"What we're launching isn't a proposal or standard," OpenTitan founder and Google Cloud director Dominic Rizzo said at a press conference. "It's an active engineering project."

Google is responsible for defending a huge volume of data center equipment around the world, Rizzo explained, and its growing attack surface demands new defensive technologies. As firmware-level attacks become "a realistic and growing concern," it's looking to the silicon layer.

"We felt that in order to build trust in our secure silicon, we needed to build the design from the ground up," Rizzo said. The goal is to bring trust, code integrity, trusted machine identity, and physical attack protection into devices built with these RoT silicon chips. OpenTitan can be used with any platform and customized so it adapts to different types of devices and software.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

OpenTitan is managed by UK nonprofit lowRISC and supported by ETH Zurich, G+D Mobile Security, Nuvoton Technology, and Western Digital. A team of engineers representing these partners is tasked with building the logical design of the silicon RoT. This includes an open source microprocessor (lowRISC Ibex), cryptographic coprocessors, a hardware random-number generator, sophisticated key hierarchy, memory hierarchies for volatile and nonvolatile storage, defensive mechanisms, I/O peripherals, and secure boot, among other components.

Open source silicon is similar to open source software in the way it folds trust and transparency into the design process. Issues can be detected early on, reducing the need for blind trust. A common, open reference design gives users a choice of implementation, and maintains a set of common interfaces and guarantees for software compatibility, officials explain in a release on the news.

The project aims to open source additional layers of the root of trust. In a traditional RoT structure, the open components include protocols, APIs, printed circuit board (PCB) interface, and PCB design, they say. In addition to these, OpenTitan also open sources the firmware, instruction set architecture, system-on-a-chip architecture, digital intellectual property (IP), register-transfer level verification, and chip packaging. The foundry IP, analog IP, physical design kit, and chip fabrication remain proprietary components.

Starting today, OpenTitan is inviting everyone to evaluate and contribute to its design. Hardware vendors are invited to reach out if they're interested in a pilot OpenTitan RoT integration.

Related Content:

This free, all-day online conference offers a look at the latest tools, strategies, and best practices for protecting your organization’s most sensitive data. Click for more information and, to register, here.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: -when I told you that our cyber-defense was from another age
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10766
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-19
Pixie versions 1.0.x before 1.0.3, and 2.0.x before 2.0.2 allow SQL Injection in the limit() function due to improper sanitization.
CVE-2019-11289
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-19
Cloud Foundry Routing, all versions before 0.193.0, does not properly validate nonce input. A remote unauthorized malicious user could forge a route service request using an invalid nonce that will cause the Gorouter to crash.
CVE-2011-2922
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-19
ktsuss versions 1.4 and prior spawns the GTK interface to run as root. This can allow a local attacker to escalate privileges to root and use the "GTK_MODULES" environment variable to possibly execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2019-18934
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-19
Unbound 1.6.4 through 1.9.4 contain a vulnerability in the ipsec module that can cause shell code execution after receiving a specially crafted answer. This issue can only be triggered if unbound was compiled with `--enable-ipsecmod` support, and ipsecmod is enabled and used in the configuration.
CVE-2012-6070
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-19
Falconpl before 0.9.6.9-git20120606 misuses the libcurl API which may allow remote attackers to interfere with security checks.