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
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.

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/23/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Russian Military Officers Unmasked, Indicted for High-Profile Cyberattack Campaigns
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24847
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability is identified in FruityWifi through 2.4. Due to a lack of CSRF protection in page_config_adv.php, an unauthenticated attacker can lure the victim to visit his website by social engineering or another attack vector. Due to this issue, an unauthenticat...
CVE-2020-24848
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
FruityWifi through 2.4 has an unsafe Sudo configuration [(ALL : ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL]. This allows an attacker to perform a system-level (root) local privilege escalation, allowing an attacker to gain complete persistent access to the local system.
CVE-2020-5990
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in the ShadowPlay component which may lead to local privilege escalation, code execution, denial of service or information disclosure.
CVE-2020-25483
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
An arbitrary command execution vulnerability exists in the fopen() function of file writes of UCMS v1.4.8, where an attacker can gain access to the server.
CVE-2020-5977
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in NVIDIA Web Helper NodeJS Web Server in which an uncontrolled search path is used to load a node module, which may lead to code execution, denial of service, escalation of privileges, and information disclosure.